Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Doily Mania: May Orchids

The stereotypical item to crochet is a doily.  Doilies today serve little purpose: they're just decorative, and very few people have any use for them.  Therefore, I never thought I'd get into making them.  Then my friend Lynnette told me that they were her favorite thing to make, or at least, thread crochet was here favorite.  I've always liked making blankets, with my trusty J hook, but figured I'd see what all the fuss was about.  I made several attempts and just could not get into it.

I worked on a doily in maroon, because that way it'd at least be an Aggie doily, for months more than a year ago.  It was tedious, stressful, and somewhat painful to my hands.  Reading doily patterns takes some getting used to, there are some tricks to it that I didn't understand, which made me have to improvise because I read the pattern wrong.  Also, you can't really do anything while working on one because the pattern changes every round.  This attempt ended when my roughly three month old puppy discovered that the ball of thread would roll, and proceeded to play with it all over the living room, tangling it around, under and through the couch and other furniture, pulling out hours of work in the process.  At that point, I just gave up and haven't touched it since.

The main reason I don't like doily thread is that it's so small I can't really see my stitches, and working with a size 5 hook literally hurts my hands.  So, I decided to try the size 3 thread, which is ironically bigger than the size 10 thread, working with an E hook.  The results were okay: my hands didn't hurt, I could see what I was doing, but it was impossible to make things small.  I wanted to make butterflies to put on clips for little girls hair, but they were just too big.

Then a few weeks ago, while perusing the yarn selection at my local Joann's store, I ran across something interesting: size 5 thread!  Size 10 was too small, size 3 was too big, so maybe size 5 would be perfect.  It was Bernat Handicrafter Crochet Thread.  I bought some purple, Orchid, and green thread, fully expecting it to sit in my stash forever, because I thought I'd never get around to doilies when I had afghans to make.  Anyway, I did get around to it, rather quickly actually, so that I wouldn't forget, and I love this thread!  You can see your stitches, it doesn't hurt your hands to work with it, and it's not too big.  I also bought a size 5 hook with a bamboo handle to use for this, and the bamboo handle makes a huge difference. 

I decided to give my one book of doily patterns, A Year of Doily Patterns: Book 5,  another try, and started on the May doily.  I mentioned earlier that there are some tricks to reading doily patterns.  One of the most important is to not turn unless you're specifically told to do so.  Well, I didn't know that, so I turned after every round, which made the pattern not line up.  To compensate, I had to reinterpret the pattern for every round, which led to some problems.  It wasn't until I had actually completed the entire doily, and was taking pictures of it and generally admiring it, that I realized I couldn't fold it properly.  Nothing lined up.  Then I counted, and somehow I had ended up with 7 pineapples instead of the 8 that should have been there.  In any case, it lays flat and I like it, so I just have a slightly skewed doily now. 

Making that doily only whetted my appetite for doily making.  I went out and bought more of the thread, and searched ravelry for more patterns.  I've now made several (I'll post more of them later), and will probably continue to make these beautiful but pointless creations.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Blended Arrows Blanket

My plans to make a blanket out of the Blended Arrows stitch were thwarted for a while because Hobby Lobby is reorganizing their yarn department.  The consequence was that I could not get any white yarn for about six weeks.  It was a glorious day when I discovered they had finally restocked and I could finally finish this blanket.

This blanket was by far the most time consuming project I've done yet, but it was worth it.  It is the thickest, warmest, most solid blanket I've made.  Have you ever heard knitters scornfully say that they don't like crochet because there are too many holes?  This is my answer to that complaint.  If you want a warm, solid fabric, and time isn't really an issue, this stitch is for you.

Here's how to make this:
Color Pattern:

5 rows of yellow, (6 rows each of blue, white, green, yellow) repeated, ending with 2 rows of green.  The border is done in blue.

Chain 201, then work the Blended Arrows stitch.
Round 1: sc around; 3 sc in corner
Round 2: dc around; 5 dc in corner
Round 3: sc around; 3 sc in corner
Round 4: dc around; 5 dc in corner
Round 5: sc around; 3 sc in corner

I made this with I Love this Yarn in Hot Yellow, Peacock (blue), Limelight (green), and White with a J hook.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Puffing Along: Stitch Six!

Stitch six is the next installment in this series.  It grows fairly rapidly and produces a pretty, lacy fabric.  If you like puff stitches, this one is worth trying.  Personally, I don't like puff stitches, so I'm not really a fan of this one.  There is so much variation in puff stitches because each person does them differently, having different tensions in the thread.  Mine naturally come out tight, thick, and stumpy.  I have to consciously think about each stitch to make them looser.  My friend Lynnette makes light and puffy puff stitches, so I know it's doable, just not for me.  I doubt I'll reuse this stitch as written.  I conceivably would reuse it if I replaced the puff stitches with clusters.

Here's the pattern:
Chain 91, then work stitch until it's square.  Add the normal border to complete.
Round 1: sc around, 3 sc in corner
Round 2: dc around, 5 dc in corner
Round 3: sc around, 3 sc in corner
Round 4: (sc, ch 3, sk 1) around, (sc, ch 3, sc in same stitch) at corner

I made this with Baby Bee Sweet Delight yarn in Precious Ombre and a J hook.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Back to it: Stitch Five!

Getting back to 50 Stitches for Afghans, here's stitch five.  Normally, I would have tried this in a different color pattern than that found in the book, but not for this one.  The point of this stitch is to have essentially a grid of tiles, some solid, some not.  Having multiple colors would distract from this, so I decided to make it a solid color.  The stitch itself is easy to work and grows at the speed of dc, which is nice.  I like the overall effect of this stitch, but I'm not sure what I'd use it for.  It would make a pretty tablecloth if you were willing to work with small thread. 

In any case, here's what I did

Chain 87, then work stitch until square.  Add the standard border to finish.
Round 1: sc around, 3 sc in corner
Round 2: dc around, 5 dc in corner
Round 3: sc around, 3 sc in corner
Round 4: (sc, ch 3, sk 1) around, (sc, ch 3, sc in same stitch) at corner

I made this with Bernat Baby Coordinates Tangerine Dream yarn and a J hook.