Boardwalk progress

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LOVE this book, too!

And that’s where my Boardwalk Bag is so far!

This is the color combination I finally settled on for the Moogly Mini Crochet-Along project. I like how it’s coming along so far, but I’m not yet convinced I don’t need to try out one of the other combinations I’d considered, too. Once I finish this one, I’ll probably make a second bag either for myself or for my mom.

 

 

DSCN5914The sharp-eyed among you will notice that I’ve departed pretty significantly from the pattern already. I’ve been continuing in one direction instead of turning after each round. I decided since I’m following a specific striping plan (more on that in a minute) with multiple yarns instead of the continuous multicolored yarn the pattern calls for, it would work better to have uniformly oriented stitches.

Of course, there is always a technical downside to making stripes. I’m not looking forward to this little chore. That’s a whole lotta ends to weave.

DSCN5911But, that’s a bridge to cross later. I’m enjoying the project now.

It took me forever to work out which kind of stripes to make. In my typical overthinking, compulsive fashion, I resorted to a grid via spreadsheet. I’m not kidding. Here’s the beast.

stripesGonna keep that around for possible reference when it comes time for the second bag, I guess!

In other news, I can’t tell you how pleased this makes me: Shiny new new elements and drip pans on my stove!

DSCN5909I’d broken one element about a month ago, then another family member who shall remain nameless accidentally melted a Tupperware into another one last week. It really complicated my dinner-making duties to have only two functioning elements (one of which was a small one, useless for spaghetti pots and skillets). And now my cooking life is back to normal. Ahh…it’s the little things!

What’s new in your world, household, craft, or otherwise?

Check out what others are up to: linking with Ginny and Beth.

Yarn quandary

DSCN5877Here you see two of my current long-range projects–a crocheted shawl I haven’t posted about even once yet though I started it months ago (eek!), and some knitted socks. Bad news is, both projects are stalled right now. I sort of hit the boredom wall on the shawl since it’s one of those loooong stretches of the same stitch over and over. As for the socks, well, let’s just say I’m very, very glad I remembered to run that scrap-yarn lifeline before I started turning the heel…wrong. And I’m sure I’ll have made that thank-goodness-for-lifelines comment more than once before I get sock knitting right!

So those projects are temporarily shelved. In the meantime, Tamara at Moogly posted a sneak-peek photo of her next mini-crochet along project. The first part of the pattern goes live tomorrow, and I’m all fired up to start. Because I mean, it’s a purse or tote, and what’s not to love about that!

But.

I know I’ll be working out of my ample supply of leftover yarn, but I haven’t made up my mind which combination to use.

Help me out? Tell me in the comments which of these palettes (doesn’t that word make cheap acrylic yarn sound all artsy and elegant?) you like best!

A bag in these shades could be nice as a late summer or summer/fall transitional piece…

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Choice 1

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Choice 2

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Choice 3

…or these combinations would work all throughout fall…

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Choice 4

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Choice 5

…or a glance at this one would make me feel cozy in the coldest months…

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Choice 6

…or I could (in theory, anyway) force myself to wait until it warms again in spring to debut this one…

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Choice 7

Which would you choose? Or, do you see a great combination in there that I missed? And who else is planning to participate in the  Moogly mini-crochet along?

Check out what other great crafts are going on this week: Linking with Beth and Nicole.

Socking it

DSCN5832You might look at that photo and think, Wow, she’s even a slower knitter than she says. That doesn’t look like much progress since the photo two weeks ago.

No, it’s not. But not because I’m quite as slow as all that. I had a series of alarming stitch-dropping incidents. I picked up and restitched and went on. But the last time I ended up tinking and restitching several times over, and the count still wasn’t coming out right. I finally ripped 8 or 10 whole rounds in desperation. Two new rounds later, the whole thing was such a stretched, uneven, lumpy mess, I gave up and ripped the whole thing. What you see here is the all-the-way-from-the-new-cast-on version. I’m working the heel flap currently.

DSCN5833It was heartbreaking to rip so much, but now I’m kind of glad it happened. I used a different cast-on this time around, and it seems to be much more stable than the first one had been.

I’m pleasantly surprised with the way all these wacky, wild colors are lining up, too. You just can’t guess where the stripes will fall from looking at the skein. It’s fun to watch.

DSCN5835I also started and finished another project in that time, but–that’s a different story for a different post.

Oh, and the book–the jury’s out. I’ve only gotten a few pages in so far. But I’m hopeful since the buddy who passed it along called it “creepy good.” We shall see!

Thanks to you link party hostesses! Click over to their sites to see what others are working on, too.

Beth at iknead2knit

Nicole at Frontier Dreams

What are YOU working on?

two quick finishes

DSCN5632I have several long-term projects going on that I really ought to have been working on, but instead I set them all aside in favor of some instant gratification this past week.

Of course, the fact that a cousin has a new baby is a terrific excuse to crank out a tiny hat, no matter what else happens to be in progress at the moment.

 

 

 

DSCN5636Actually this little cap is not newborn tiny–it’ll fit him by winter, though. I love this yarn, both the colors (the gray is true in these photos, but the red isn’t–in real life, it’s a deep wine red) and how it feels. It’s 80% wool but not the least scratchy, and it flows smoothly over the needles, too. And of course, I always, always love stripes. I borrowed this sawtooth striping technique from a description of Vanilla Bean Socks posted on Minding My Own Stitches recently.

DSCN5637And here’s a fun new dishcloth. The pattern, Squaring the Spiral, was new to me. I saw it last week on someone’s Works in Progress Wednesday post…or maybe it was a Finish Off Friday…sure wish I could remember which person shared photos, but I read so many of these link parties, I just don’t recall.

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(This is the photo that best shows the true colors on this cloth.)

Anyhow, thank you, fellow crocheter and blogger, for passing along the pattern link! I completely enjoyed the process of working this pattern. Believe it or not, even with the constant counting and frequent color switches, it’s a very quick cloth to make.

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DSCN5634I’m linking in with Beth’s finish-off party this week. Thanks for hosting! Check out the other finishes–there’s always a lot of crafting joy and inspiration out there.

What about you? What’s just off your project list?

stitch and read?

sock and book in progressA few weeks ago (okay, it’s actually been well more than a month now, but anyway), I finally managed to post in time for one of the Finish Off Fridays that I read every week. So here’s another first today: I finally am posting–though screeching in at the very end of the day–a Work in Progress Wednesday.

I guess technically there’s another first here also. That knitting is my first sock ever. I’ve been collecting sock patterns and even sock yarn for a while, but I’ve avoided starting knowing how hard it would be to work with such fine needles and thin yarn given my poor eyesight and tremor. Yes, the cast on and the first round were ridiculously hard! But to my surprise, I’m finding that after that first round, the work spools off no more slowly or more difficult than any other knitting. I’m thrilled!

Of course, I haven’t reached anything complicated yet. Like turning the heel. But baby steps, right?

The book is very good so far, too. Can’t complain about life in general when the stitches and reading are moving nicely, now, can I?

Happy to join Ginny’s followers today:

What’s your favorite online Work in Progress Wednesday? Share links!

Emerald bath robe

finished bathrobeHere’s my latest finish: a short-length, short-sleeve bathrobe.

It’s awfully simple to look at, but this finish feels like a big victory. Hmm, let me count the ways!

1) Both the fabric and the pattern were free.

The pattern came from one of Tillie’s books. I suppose you might call it a vintage style–the book was originally published in 1973. The fabric is yet another uncut length that came from the huge Freecycle pick-up I lucked into nearly two years ago (and which I will seemingly never stop referring to).

To my mind, sentiment and thrift made a perfect combination!

2) I really, really needed it!

There are plenty of dresses or tops I’d enjoy making but don’t because I already have so many perfectly fine clothes. But my old bathrobe was not one of them. After 20+ years of faithful service, this poor thing deserved retirement.

terry close-up

Years of washing had taken all the blue, yellow, and green stripes out of what used to be multicolored fabric.

worn fabric

But lack of color was the least of this old soldier’s problems. Both shoulders and the center back looked like this.

Yeah, it was time.

3) I liked this color but knew I’d never wear such a dated fabric in public.

It’s one of those polyester knits that’s sturdy and infinitely washable but from another era fashion-wise. But I knew this rich emerald green would make me smile every time I put it on, so it made sense to use the fabric for an item that I would enjoy wearing in the nonjudgmental comfort of my own home.

knit fabric

It’s a hard color to capture, but this one photo is very, very close to exact.

4) I picked up a couple new (or new-ish) skills.

The pattern called for flat-felled seams, which I’d never done before. It made for a lot of extra stitching, but I’m very pleased with the way mine turned out. Even the wrong side looks smooth and neat.

flat-felled seamMy experience working with knit fabrics had been pretty limited, too–just mending or refitting existing items. Until now!

Finally, this was the first time I’d cut an entire garment pattern from a single small, multidirectional master sheet using a tracing wheel. I won’t lie, it was fussy and frustrating. But I also know now exactly what I’ll do differently next time to make it go more smoothly.

5) I remembered to make my modifications early.

They were minor modifications–adjusting standard sizing to match my actual measurements, adding belt loops, choosing a lighter hem and binding than recommended–but I know from sad prior experience that getting the plan right from the beginning this time around saved me a lot of time.

belt loop

Belt loops–a critical omission from the pattern in my opinion.

6) It fits absolutely perfectly.

And how often can we say that about off-the-rack clothing?

finished bathrobeWhat about you? Tell about your latest VICTORIOUS make–and link to photos if you like, too!

FO Friday: red hot hot pads

crocheted hot padsWell, look at that! It just so happens that not only is it Friday, but I have both a newly finished project and a little time to post about it. How karmic. And how exceedingly rare.

These hot pads are perfectly utilitarian, and the improvised pattern is about as simple as crochet gets. The real story here is where the supplies came from.

See, this is another product of the minor recycling crisis I experience every time time my husband retires a uniform shirt. You may recall my pondering what to do with these shirts in the second half of a post I wrote a couple years ago.

We were not in need of any little drawstring bags this time, though. I didn’t really have a plan when I took a cheerful red (but varnish-splattered in one section) shirt and cut away the collar and cuffs and employer’s logo. That left me with a lopsided fabric tube. I cut the tube spirally, then wound it like yarn. Then I set it aside because I still didn’t have any idea what to do with it.

When I finally got around to picking up a large (really large–a Q) crochet hook, it took very little time to turn the “yarn” into finished hot pads. Fat yarn does work up fast!

close view crocheted hot padsAll that cutting, though. This is heavy, good-quality pique knit fabric, and tough scissor work does NOT agree with my hands. Plus, I didn’t realize until it was all over that cutting this fabric produces lots of dust and lint. I sneezed red streaks for two days after the cutting, and I was still getting a reddish cast on my dustcloth for another two weeks after that.

I don’t suppose I’ll be cutting this type of discarded fabric into miles of yarn again, but at the same time, I still can’t stomach the idea of just tossing those old shirts.

Lend me some of your clever ideas! Whether you sew, knit, or crochet, how would you make a work shirt keep working after its retirement?

And thanks to Jenna for sponsoring some FO Friday fun! Click over to check out what others have finished today.

Feeling knitty

A few weeks ago I mentioned “feeling knitty.” What usually results from such home-and-hearth cravings, especially as the weather warms and scarves become less practical: Dishcloths!

I have four dishcloths off my needles recently. These two are from that old familiar pattern that everyone’s grandma knows.

knitted dishcloth

another knitted dishclothLove that pattern to death. It’s quick, practical, and awfully pretty when done in variegated yarns like those. And–most importantly–it’s the pattern my husband’s grandma used so frequently. Having these dishcloths in the kitchen is cozily sentimental.

These two cloths are a little more involved, requiring a little more attention and counting, but just as scrub-worthy and gorgeous to boot. Both are patterns I’ve done before and know without a doubt I will do again, they are so fun.

This one is called Lemon Swirl Dishcloth.

another knitted dishcloth

Here’s a closer look at the edge of this Lemon Swirl. My gauge was a little weird this time–I used an off brand of yarn–so I added a couple extra rounds of edging to plump up the final circumference a little. Otherwise, I worked it exactly as written in the pattern.

closer view knitted dishcloth

And this one is called Almost Lost Dishcloth. Do click that link, even if you don’t knit. How the pattern got online is a neat story.

knitted dishclothYes, that is some ugly grafting on the right side of the photo. That is definitely among my knitting goals–to graft neatly so I don’t end up with seams that look like badly healed surgical scars. Anyhow, it’s not a fault in the pattern at all, just my inept technique.

The rest of that cloth is so fun, though, really fascinating to watch furling itself off the needles. The magic of short-rows! See?

knitted dishcloth close

I have not made good on my threat to buy more kitchen cotton yarn, and at this point, I know I won’t have to. I have half of my 2015 Christmas dishcloth supply already made, and there’s still plenty left in my cotton bin for more. Each of the finishes above started from a partial ball, and each left behind another small leftover ball when the dishcloth was done.

I guess, then, my next few dishcloths should use a pattern designed for using up several smaller balls of 20 yards or less. I have a couple patterns around that fit the bill, but I’d love your suggestions, too!

Knitters and crocheters: What’s your favorite dishcloth pattern for using up several small amounts of leftover yarn rather than one continuous ball?

It’s in the bag.

crocheted purse upright viewI am so thrilled with this finish: a durable, roomy new purse!

I have wanted to crochet a purse for a long time. I started and stopped several different patterns patterns several times, each time fighting the same problem: It’s so doggone difficult to see when crocheting in black! The only way I can get black stitches done right is to work directly under the glare of a seriously bright lamp. And how much fun is that?

It was so much simpler to put that project aside and pick up something I could see easily, and I did.

For eight months.

It wasn’t until my old purse literally fell apart (more on that in a few) that I bit the bullet and committed to crocheting under that bright, hot lamp until I got past the solid black section of the purse.

Once those black-only rounds were done, the project got a lot easier. The whole purse body is done with a double strand of yarn. Double-tan, or one black + one tan, is loads easier to see than double-black, and so the strong lighting was not necessary for the longest stretch of stitching.

crocheted purse flat viewOf course I had to really buckle down again to finish the final black rounds and the handles, but by that time, I’d made enough progress to stay motivated and just. do. it.

purse closureThis magnetic closure is something I Frankensteined from my old purse. In fact, as used-up as the body of that old purse was, I salvaged quite a few potentially-useful items from it before I tossed it.

purse salvage

NOT junked: said magnetic snap closure, a short nylon zipper, two 8-inch lengths of leather strap, and 4 really cool long wooden beads that I removed from the old purse before it hit the trash can

And so the old gets new life!

About that fantastic pinstriped lining–I paid a grand total of 77¢ to rescue it from a remnant bin. This purse took up less than half of that 3/4-yard remnant, so Eventual Self-Made Purse #2 will one day get a snazzy lining, too.

purse lining

Maybe next time I’ll put a salvaged zipper in the lining pocket, even!

I’d always intended to put a pocket in the lining, but the purse’s outer pocket was a digression from my original plan. You know how crochet in the round leans slightly to the diagonal? I thought that tilting looked strange in this gradient-look color pattern. So I covered it with a pocket–one precisely sized to the dimensions of my cell phone. Win.

purse with side pocket showingSo yeah, I put a lot of stalling in at the front end of the project. BUT now that I’ve been using my new purse for a week, I can say without reservation that it’s EVERYTHING I hoped for. Of course. It’s custom in practically every way!

Finishing this purse also took one more long-term project out of the stack of knitting/crocheting/sewing materials sitting around my house. So I’m going to go ahead and call this a Messy to Classy finish, too. Here’s the corner my purse-in-progress bag was in before:

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The purse was in that navy tote bag BEFORE.

…and here’s that corner now, with the purse and several smaller projects newly finished:

DSCN5072Obviously I still have a long way to go, but heck. Progress is progress. Thanks for the inspiration, Preeti!

Your turn, fellow crafters: What’s the project you’ve longed to do but put off because the going was difficult? What was your most gratifying project once you finally got around to doing it? And what’s the strangest place/item from which you’ve salvaged notions?

Warm necks

I knew it’d been a while since I posted, but until just this moment I hadn’t realized it was nearly 2 months. In that case, a little piece of catch up is more than due!

There’s been plenty going on around here, mostly crochet-wise, the past 8 weeks or so. It’s just a bunch of it is long-term, so there aren’t too many finished items to share.

…except these two circular scarves.

The first: That coral yarn had been calling to me ever since the project I originally bought it for (and which used very little) was done. I can’t wear solid coral by my face, or I look like a summer squash. But this one thick stripe of it is pretty enough to satisfy without doing awful things to my complexion.

I very much like how it turned out!

large crochet scarf

It’s a simple broken shell stitch throughout, which leaves it with a scalloped edge.

scalloped crochet edgeI liked how that ending round looked, so I added one upside-down round to the starting side so it has a scallop, too. The sides aren’t precisely the same, but it works.

And the second scarf. When one of my most favorite people came through my house one day and saw the yarn sitting in a bin, she said she loved those colors together. I looked again when she left. There was enough for a scarf and not much else. Fate. And a completely enjoyable gift to grant!

turquoise peach scarfMy only hesitation was, the yarn (something from one of Tillie’s crates that had no label) was fuzzy-ish but didn’t feel especially soft. Fortunately, it’s one of those yarns that completely changes character after a wash. It’s perfectly cozy around the neck now.

fuzzy yarn stitches

Scarves. Simple, colorful, warm, and fun times two!

I still have those long-term things to finish, but at the moment, I’m feeling kind of knitty. I think this weekend’s plans will include a quick-satisfaction dishcloth or two.

What’s fresh off–or on!–your craft to-do list?

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