The Afghan Itch

Today’s post brought to you by… nap time and two cups of coffee!

Though it has been absolutely scorching this week (over 90 every day), it was pleasantly cool just over a week ago. During that week, I started to get pretty excited about fall and the impending colder weather. Fall is my favorite time of year, hands down. I love the cool air, the leaves changing color and the fun stuff we do around Halloween (which is my favorite holiday. Though many people tell me if you don’t get the day off from work, it’s not a holiday. But I say, you decorate for it…(or at least I do)…so it’s a holiday!).

The other thing fall makes me excited about is bigger crafting projects – particularly afghans – that you can cuddle up under while you’re working on it. Which leads me to the start of my first charity afghan for 2014! I say 2014, because I’m not crazy enough to believe this will be done by early November (the deadline for submissions) and because I’ve already made 3 for this year.

Now, as you know, I only crochet one blanket pattern over and over. I do mix up the colors and the placement of the stripes, but that’s it. So it’s Blue Afghan again! However, since it’s still very warm and still technically summer, I am going with a Sand and Sea theme for colors. Sand and Sea Afghan in progressBaby Knitsnips and I took an unexpected trip with my mom back to my hometown last night. My other current project (a Godric’s Hollow hat in the scrummy yarn I showed you a while ago) is hurting my hand a little with all the k3tog, so I needed an easy, mindless project to occupy me during the hour drive. I selected a few colors out of my mom’s charity yarn stash and started when we hopped in the car. I selected Caron One Pound’s Lace as the main color and Seafoam as the main accent. The blue, which I would describe as a denim blue, didn’t have a ball band any more as there was very little left from a blanket my mom made a while ago. I think I have enough to do two one-row stripes in the blue, and that’s it! I’ve already made some good progress, and I’m pleased with the color combination so far.

It was nice, if not a little strange, to go back to where I grew up after I haven’t been in two years. We ran into a few people I knew when I was younger, and they all reintroduced themselves to me, and my mom reminded them of my name, and that was all very strange since I knew who they were! The little main street looked just the same, though. We stopped at a little independently owned BBQ and ice cream shop on the way home. I love their ice cream and the topping they put on it, which is a mixture of sprinkles and nuts. I haven’t had their BBQ since I quit eating meat (maybe nearly 20 years ago now?!), but I go back every time I’m in town for the ice cream.  It was BK’s first trip to the town and the ice cream shop, though I know she will never remember that. I was a little sad to see that a restaurant my grandpa always wanted to go when he visited us had shut down and is now a pizza place. Regardless, it was worth the trip to see a dear old friend and to show our support one of my mom’s old friends. And of course, the crochet car time was a nice benefit as well.

So I’m off to take advantage of the last little bit of BK’s nap. So far, I’ve managed to write this entry and block two newly finished projects! I hope to be able to share these with you soon. Have a fabulous holiday weekend!

 

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FO: Charity Blanket #2 for 2013

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a little bit addicted to my charity afghan project this year. It’s just so easy to pick up and work on, and the pattern is so easy (Blue Afghan).

As a result, I’ve already finished two this year. And since the collection is at the beginning of November, I still have the red, white and blue one from 2012 to donate for this year. I’m pretty happy with three, since I only finished one by the deadline last year!

I used the losing color combo from our vote last year to finish up this one, since I had the yarn available.

blue, lilac and white afghan

I think it turned out really well! I’m pleased with the color combination. All three colors in this afghan are Caron One Pound, which is my favorite for these charity afghans, since it is easy care.

Since I gathered all my yarn in one place and realized how much there is, I’ve been on a mission to start knitting and crocheting my way through it quickly. I now only have two half skeins of One Pound left, which is not nearly enough to make another afghan. This means I’ll probably be taking a little break from afghans. This is good news for you, blog readers, because it means I will probably be working on quicker, smaller scale projects – which means more FOs (hopefully)!

Like candy…

I’ve been doing a lot of work on my second charity blanket of 2013. I started this most recent blanket on January 8. My intention was just to get it started enough so that I could pick it up as I felt like it. But it turns out this pattern (Blue Afghan) goes so quickly, especially at the beginning, that I found it addictive – like candy. I kept thinking “just a little bit more” as I sat cozied up by the fireplace.

the beginning of charity blanket #2

And strangely, I’ve been more addicted to adding more and more to this afghan than I have to my knitting projects, which I am mentally more interested in. But it’s just that this is so easy to pick up and do a few double crochets without having to look at a pattern, or worry that I need to finish a round or a row to get to a stopping point, and that’s just too yummy to resist.

It’s growing very quickly.

Preview of charity blanket #2You’ll notice I’m using the other color scheme that lost from the poll before, but I had enough yarn leftover to make that one happen, too.

And since today it’s snowing, and I’m planning on mostly staying holed up in the house, it might grow some more. It’s just a soft snow, not meant to accumulate more than an inch, but that’s enough for me to try to avoid bad snow drivers.

I have also restarted my own pair of Knotty gloves on size 1 needles, that fit now (hooray!), so hopefully I’ll have some progress photos of those to show you soon.

 

 

FO: Charity Blanket #1 of 2013

Ta dah!

Remember when I asked you to vote on a color scheme for my next charity blanket? Well, it turns out when I feel committed to you, I finish afghans much faster!

After finishing my slipper socks (back on December 15), I started an afghan with the selected color scheme of navy, teal/turquoise and white. And on Tuesday, I finished it! This may be the fasted afghan I have ever completed.

As I started working on the blanket, it seemed like it didn’t really need the white, so I dropped it. And – full selfish disclosure – I’m glad you picked that color combo because I strongly dislike that turquoise yarn. I wanted to use it up and get it out of the house. Back in 2010, I picked out something other than my usual Caron One Pound yarn (for charity blankets, it’s best if it’s cheap and washable!) to be able to choose a wider range of colors. I regretted the choice immediately. It was soft, true, but it was also very splitty and much thinner than my usual yarn. I found it very frustrating to work with, but the end result was vibrant and pretty. Since then, almost a whole pound of it has been ruminating in the stash. It was time for it to go.

So this blanket incorporated navy Caron One Pound of yarn (which is certainly my preference and will unlikely stray from again!) and the dreaded turquoise yarn. And I think it’s turned out beautifully!

charity afghan 2013 #1

I still have a little of the turquoise left since I didn’t have enough to complete another round on the afghan.

leftover turquoise

I have plans to make another charity project with it so that the yarn will be well and truly gone! Stay tuned for another FO with it in the future.

It pains me to be a hooker.

As you’ve gathered from a couple of my posts about my charity blankets, I do dabble in the art of crochet. Just blankets, actually.

I noticed while finishing blanket #1 that the hook was really starting to hurt me. The flat part of the hook was causing me pain as it flipped back and forth between my fingers. I had seen a “comfort hook” at JoAnn’s and decided it would be worth trying that for blanket #2. Once I got to the store, I realized that the comfort hook was flat for the entire handle, which I thought would increase the pain, so I ended up purchasing a round bamboo handle hook instead.crochet hooks standing up

I took my new hook home and started to plan blanket #2. Since I’ve crocheted the same blanket every year for 6 years, I decided to mix it up a bit and create one with three colors instead of my standard two. And since it’s been a year of red, white and blue patriotism (my husband becoming a US citizen, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics in London), I decided to do the same with my blanket.

Red, white and blue for my next blanket

As you can see from the below picture, my new hook still has a flat piece in the middle, and the hook is not shaped as nicely as my original hook. I found it very difficult to handle. I was trying to hold on only to the bamboo piece, which made the hook feel too long. And the different shape of the hook made it more difficult to easily poke through the chains.

crochet hooks

I took my blanket along as a car project a couple of weekends ago. After two sessions of an hour and a bit of crocheting with the new hook, I was in intense pain. My wrist and fingers hurt intensely in a way they never have before, and nothing could easethe discomfort for hours.

So the long and short of it is that crocheting is hurting me now no matter which hook I use, but knitting is not. I’m therefore taking a blanket hiatus, so expect only knitting for a little while. Any suggestions on what I can do to ease the pain and get back to my blanket?

FO: Charity Blanket #1 for 2012

Finally! After six months, I’m proud to introduce you to the first charity blanket I’ve completed for 2012.

Charity blanket on queen bed

Here is it displayed on the queen bed in our guest room (which you may be able to gather is a London-themed room – a result of loving London myself and living with a Brit). It’s 5 feet wide and a shade past 6 feet long, which is the minimum for submissions to my charity group.

close-up of charity blanket

It’s my favorite pattern to crochet for charity: Blue Afghan. As usual, I’ve used the Caron One Pound so that it’s easy care for the recipient. I’ve used Azure and White for this blanket.

Though I make this same pattern year after year, I never get tired of knowing that it will go to a woman who has escaped a bad domestic situation with few supplies, and that it will keep her warm on her journey to her new life. It never stops being the most rewarding crafting I do, despite being the simplest pattern.

Each year, the woman who organizes the wrapping, collection and delivery of the Christmas packages sends us a letter that brings tears to my eyes. It always describes the joy when the woman realize there are presents not only for their children, but for them, too. And how many serendipitously end up with a blanket of their favorite colors. So I’m hoping this year there is a woman who will love nothing more than a light blue blanket!

Christmas knitting

This year, I was a Bad Knitter. I only knitted two Christmas gifts and both were for my parents.

In my defense, I did a somewhat insane amount of knitting for last Christmas, and it went largely unappreciated, so I decided to scale back considerably. Last year, I made 31 dishcloths, two pairs of slippers and a hat.

I made three dishcloths per person for 10 of my female relatives. I started in June to make sure I had time to finish them all and not have to neglect my other knitting in the process. Each woman got a Christmas colored one, a solid one that had her initial on it, and a multi-colored one that matched the initial cloth. I tied them up with beautiful Christmas ribbon and put them in little Christmas tins. I didn’t even get thank yous for all of them.

So that accounted for 30 of dishcloths. Then I made my parents one, since I was on a roll. My mom and my boss were the recipients of the slippers, and that hat was for my dad. These last four were appreciated.

So this year, I decided less is more.

I’m an early Christmas knitter starter, so I began a shawl for my mom in July. It’s made of an awesome cotton/bamboo blend that I purchased from The Weavers Loft at the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival. I saw the yarn, bought a brown/blue/purple color for my mom, and walked around the rest of the booths petting my lovely yarn. Then, before I knew it, I was back at the same stall, buying a different color for myself. After looking for a simple but warm pattern (the reason my mom needs one is because her office is very cold), I settled on the Talbot Hill Shawl.  I think it turned out beautifully.

Shawl

Then, later in July, my parents bought a new house. They had lived in their previous house for 27 years, and it was the only house I ever knew growing up, and they built most of it with their own hands. So it was quite a big move for them. And for me, as they ended up moving much closer to us. I wanted them to have something lovely to commemorate their first Christmas in their new home, and the Cable Comfort Throw seemed like a great blanket to curl up on the couch with. I made it with it with Lion Brand Hometown USA, nothing luscious, but you can wash it and dry it (which is important for something you cuddle with all the time), and it is soft.

Though I started the throw early (in August), I realized quickly that the 9 skeins I bought would not be anywhere near sufficient when I was only getting 4” in length from each skein! On size 19s, with a goal of being nearly 6 ft long, this was not going to work. I went back to my local JoAnn’s, and they had no more of my dye lot. Panic set in.

I called a different location about 30 minutes away, and they had some. I drove there after work one day and bought all they had of that dye lot. I used the trip to justify a stop at a nice yarn shop nearby that I don’t get to visit very often (and just couldn’t leave without purchasing some Addi Turbo needles). Despite the nice detour, it still wasn’t going to be enough for my throw. I called another JoAnn’s, about an hour away, and they had more of my dye lot, too. I sent my dad to get every one they had. He had no idea it was for his own present – I made it seem like it was a secret for a gift just for my mom, so he didn’t ask any questions. 16 skeins later, I was finished. I think it turned out pretty well.

ComfortCableThrow

And my parents really know how to receive knitted gifts. They oohed and ahhed over the throw like no one’s business. My mom immediately wrapped up in the blanket. They commented on how beautiful it looked with the colors in the house. It was enough to warm my little knitterly heart.

So all in all, it was a merry, merry Christmas. I think next year I will continue with my less is more approach. Unless I get sideswiped by a motherload of kitchen cotton again.