Mystery blanket WIP

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I’ve mentioned in the past that I don’t like making blankets very much… Or at all. But for some crazy reason, I’ve found myself in the middle of crocheting a new blanket. I thought that making a blanket that was relevant to my interests would encourage me to keep at it and finish it in a timely manner. Unfortunately, it was only effective for one of those things. I am still working on it, but I started working on it back in September of last year. Not so timely, huh?

Not only is it crazy that I’m making a blanket; I’m making it out of exactly 418 3″ x 3″ squares! 418! I finished the squares after only a month or two, but I ran into a snag while joining them. Down to the bottom of my project bag it went. I finally dug it out again a few weeks ago, and I’m going through the painstaking process of weaving in the ends on every square before joining.

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I have a design in mind so I chose a join with almost no ridges that would look the same on each side. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I found the information on the join, but I think it’s this join from the Lion Brand website.

Also, the granny squares themselves were made using the pattern Solid Granny Squares on Ravelry.

I don’t want to give away any information on the design just yet. I’ll be posting teaser pictures as it comes along. Hopefully it won’t take another year for me to finish. 😉

Broken computer + FOs

You know those days where it feels like nothing goes according to plan? I’ve had a string of days like that for the past couple months. After my last post, I got to work on some blog-related things that I had pushed to the side, and I was really excited to start blogging regularly again. However, the universe decided to give me and my enthusiasm a swift kick in the ribs in the form of my PC failing. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to stay on for longer than a few seconds; not even enough time to get to the BIOS menu!

Fortunately, I’ve since figured out what was wrong and fixed it. After waiting over a month on a warranty claim for the wrong part. And replacing another part that wasn’t broken. And then finding out it was a part that I had a replacement for all along. Computers are complicated… (Turned out the pump in my water cooler failed, by the way.)

The good news is I’m back and hoping to catch up with my blog, assuming everything plays out as planned. (Cautiously optimistic…)

With that said, I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been working on these past couple months. Firstly, I’ve been writing a new pattern and prepping one for posting that I wrote ages ago. I won’t reveal what they are just yet, but I’m very excited to finally share them.

I’ve also been practicing handspinning with my DIY drop spindle. My first time spinning was a blobby mess, which disheartened me a little. I ended up shoving my spindle and roving into the back of my closet and forgetting about it for a few months. I pulled it out again a couple weeks ago, determined to make some progress. I’m now able to spin rather fine singles that I’m going to be plying into a finished yarn. Hoping to have a post out about that soon!

Last but not least, I have some FOs to share! Excuse the bad quality of these pictures. I had to use my phone to take them before gifting since I couldn’t use my PC to get the pictures off my Canon.

20170501_174308-01 Years and years ago, I bought a crochet water bottle cozy from a lady at a local craft festival. My dad has said ever since that he wished he had one, so I went ahead and made one for him!

This pattern is simply called Water Bottle Cozy, and it’s free on Ravelry. The original pattern had a pretty small strap on it, so I altered it just a bit so that it was longer to accommodate my dad’s larger build and wider so that it wouldn’t stretch out of shape like my old one did.

I just used plain ol’ Red Heart (in Light Sage) for this, as I had a ton of it just sitting in my stash. I don’t know where it came from, but I had like 3 skeins worth of it… Yup.

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And I finally worked up a crochet version of the famous Jayne Cobb hat! This one was for my dad for Father’s Day. I’ve wanted to knit myself one of these for ages and ages though! I opted for the crochet version because I started it at the last minute and needed something that would work up fast. I’m definitely going to get some yarn in the correct colors and properly knit one up for me. I need one.

I found this Jayne Cobb Hat crochet pattern for free on Ravelry. The lady who wrote it also has a knitted pattern available. I made this one using Red Heart again (Light Sage and Cafe, I think?) and decided to use the green and brown because my dad told me he prefers earthy colors.

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This last one, I’ve made once before for someone else. I finally got around to making one for me, just in time for me to read Harry Potter again.

I actually made two in an effort to use up the last of that awful cro-sheen yarn I bought just for this project. I gifted the second one, but haven’t yet heard how the recipient liked it.

You can find the pattern on Ravelry for free. I used one ball each of J&P Coats Metallic Knit-Cro-Sheen in white/silver and gold/gold. It’s difficult to spot in the pictures, but there’s a strand of metallic stuff twisted with the yarn. It gives it a really cool look, but that stuff was a nightmare to crochet with. I kept splitting the metallic part from the yarn by accident or unwinding it somehow. Ugh.

I have a couple WIPs I’m working on right now, but I’m going to wait until next time to share those~

A tale of two winders

Another three months gone! Time just keeps slipping by without me noticing, it seems, but I’m hoping these periods of blogging silence will soon be at an end. There are a lot of things going on in my life at the moment, but I’m taking steps to allow myself enough time to write again, even if it’s just a short post or two a week.

This week, I wanted to share some pictures and info about a recent order I placed with Knit Picks. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re an awesome online store that sells yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and tons of other handy tools for yarn-minded individuals. I’ve ordered a ton from them in the past, and I can tell you with utmost sincerity that I’ve never been disappointed in an item I’ve bought from them.

Let me show you what I got this time!

A new hand winder! When I first started knitting and crocheting enough to need one, I bought a crappy Loops & Threads winder at Michael’s. That sucker was $30, but luckily I had a 50% off coupon at the time. Let me tell you, that thing has given me such a headache! It’s just not a great design, and I can’t tell you how many times T has teased me for mumbling angrily in the corner as I attempt to wind my yarn up into pretty little cakes.

I took the time to test out my new winder before writing this entry, and it’s far superior to the Loops & Threads winder in many ways. For one, the little dootybob that holds the yarn is stationary in the Knit Picks winder. The Loops & Threads one swings back and forth, which causes the yarn to fall off the front or back of the cake that you’re trying to wind. (If you’re really unlucky, it’ll get stuck in the wheel! Ouch!)

Another thing I noticed that made it way better for me is the Knit Picks winder has this particular way of rotating that winds the cake up all nice and neat with this pretty sort of criss-cross pattern. It seems like it winds tighter and neater than the Loops & Threads winder.

Last but not least, the Knit Picks winder was super affordable at $20 (plus shipping). You can get the Loops & Threads one for cheaper using a coupon as I did, but at the end of the day, I really wish I had just paid the extra $5 and gone for the Knit Picks brand. It would’ve saved me a ton of time and headache.

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Next, I decided to splurge and buy a swift! If you don’t know what a swift is, it’s a tool for holding yarn that you’ve bought by the hank (or spun yourself) as you wind it. It expands using a mechanism similar to an umbrella, and it spins freely to allow you to easily wind your yarn without worrying about tangling.

I’ve been hand-spinning quite a bit recently, and I have a couple hanks of yarn ready to be wound. I’ve put it off until now because I was afraid of knotting all my hard work up, but it won’t be a problem with this swift around!

IMG_2695-01Lastly, Knit Picks was having a special where you get a free hank of yarn if you spend $50 or more. I chose this beautiful lace weight yarn. The line is Shadow and the color is Tidepool Heather. It’s 100% merino wool, and it’s amazingly soft. I can’t wait to make something with this. I have a project picked out, but it’ll have to wait until I finish some of my current WIPs.

(Also, I was not paid by Knit Picks, or anyone else for that matter, to write this post. I just really loved the stuff I bought and wanted to share. 🙂 )

I love duplicate stitch!

I’ve dabbled in colorwork a little bit in the past, knitting up little swatches of fair isle or striping, but I’ve never attempted to incorporate colorwork into a project. Colorwork kind of terrifies me, to be honest. I’m afraid to ruin a perfectly good project and hours of labor because I’ve made it halfway through a project only to realize that I miscounted my rows or stitches, my design is off, or some other knitting mishap like that. I know it’s silly to think that way because I’ll never make progress if I don’t try. Which is why I’ve decided stick my toes in the water and see how it feels.

In my last post, I showed off my first attempts at colorwork with my striped beanie and my Overwatch hat. And now I regret being afraid of colorwork all this time! It was much simpler than I first thought it would be, and there weren’t any major hiccups. Of course, I wasn’t doing anything super advanced, but still, through this experience, I think I’ve overcome my aversion.

Also, I’ve completely fallen in love with duplicate stitch! For those of you that aren’t familiar with the technique, it’s when you take a tapestry needle and make copies of (or duplicate) your knit stitches on top of your work using different colored yarn to make a design. It’s much simpler than intarsia or fair isle because you knit the item using just one color all the way through, then you come in later and add the design.

I’ve had a ton of fun coming up with ideas for designs, and the Overwatch hat was so popular that I got a request for a custom piece! I probably won’t do any more pieces like this because it’s just too time consuming, especially considering some of the other things going on in my life right now. But it came out great so I wanted to post it!

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The recipient chose the colors and told me the designs they wanted so I did the best I could. They seemed super pleased with the work.

I guess what I’m trying to say with this post is this: if you’ve never tried duplicate stitch before, you really ought to give it a shot. It’s amazing and the amount of things you can do with it is literally endless.

For anyone who wants to try it, you can find a great video tutorial by Knit Purl Hunter here.

Christmas 2016

Even though I told myself that I wouldn’t make handmade Christmas gifts this year, I ended up making some anyway. As before, I wanted to share them here since I’m really happy with how they came out.

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First, I made several bath poufs for my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law. I packaged them with some facial masks, bubble bath, and bath salts. Unfortunately, the bath pouf in the picture isn’t one of the ones I gifted. I didn’t have time to take pictures of them. It’s the same pattern though!

I kind of hate those plastic bath poufs that you buy at the store. It’s almost impossible to clean and rinse them out completely. Once they mold and start to smell, there’s nothing you can do except throw them away. (And they don’t even clean that well!)

These cotton poufs are awesome though! The texture of the yarn scrubs really well and leaves you feeling super clean. Once you’ve used it, you can just throw it into the wash and they’re clean and ready to go next time.

I guess the argument could be made that you could just make regular washcloths, but bath poufs are so fun! I had to make at least one. (But I really made four.)

The pattern is just called “Bath Pouf“, and I used one skein of cotton yarn for each pouf.

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I’ve been really keen to write a few hat patterns lately, so I decided to make some hats to become more familiar with their construction. This particular hat has been in my library on Ravelry for a while now. I can’t believe I’m just now getting around to it!

One of the coolest things about this pattern is the neat little pin-striping effect you get. I love finding new techniques for unique designs so I think I’ll be trying this on other projects!

The pattern is All Grown Up Striped Slouch hat.

I crocheted it with Caron Simply Soft and Lion Brand Heartland. The colors matched so well, and I feel like the difference in the fiber really added some interest!

Last but not least, my colorwork debut!

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My brother-in-law loves the game Overwatch so I knew exactly what to make for him for Christmas! And he loved it, yay! I know he loved it because he wore it out in public… I know, right!?

Clearly, this is my most successful gift to date!

The body of the hat was made using the pattern Siksak, but I made the design myself and stitched it on using duplicate stitch. It was my first time ever trying duplicate stitch, but I’m in love with it. I never want to knit anything plain ever again!

I used Caron Simply Soft for the whole thing. It came out so fluffy and warm!

All in all, everyone seemed pleased with their Christmas gifts. I was so relieved to see how well they were received.

So, friends, do you make gifts for Christmas? What do you think was the best and/or worst gift you ever gave? Looking forward to seeing your stories in the comments!