WIPs: The Hard Part is Almost Over!

So, the last time I left you with La vie en rose et violet, it pretty much looked like this:

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Well, it’s been about a month or so since my last major update, and I can show you that it now looks like this:

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Yes…the hard part is almost done!  I have an area of 8 rows and 5 columns left to work on this blanket before I start on the border.  40 squares.  That’s all that remains…just 40 squares.  I remember when this looked like a giant backwards L.  It has come a very long way since then.  I had guessed that I would finish this by the end of October, but now I think the date of completion may be closer to the end of August or the beginning of September.

Here are a couple more pictures of the more recent sections that I’ve worked on.

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I don’t know which project I’ll do next just yet.  I have my eyes set on a couple different wrap patterns, but I’m also looking at possible crochet projects to do.  I haven’t made my mind up just yet.  But what I do know is that I hope to be able to share a finished project with you very soon!

Some Knitting & An Announcement

It’s been an interesting week, to say the least.

First, the knitting.  I’ve had quite a bit of knitting time this week because my dad decided to take the week off from work (he used one of his vacation weeks), so it hasn’t been so busy around here.  I was able to finish another motif of small squares that I was working on (15 squares in a diagonal orientation, going from 5 squares in the first row, to 4 squares in the second row, and so on, all the way down to one square.  The rows alternated between pink and purple.

And here’s how it’s looking so far.

First, the wide shot of the whole thing.

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Now, it is folded up in a couple of places to make room for most of it to be seen on my bed, but the section I was just working on is in the lower left-hand portion of the photo.  As you can see, it has pretty much caught up with the 25-square checkerboard I finished last month.  In fact, that pink square at the very upper-left hand corner of the latest section (which you will see in more detail shortly) marks 10 small squares up that particular side.  I have reached a pretty big milestone: I have filled in a little over half of this afghan, which measures 18 small squares by 18 small squares.  When I resume work on this project, I will be working some more on the right-hand side of the afghan and starting to fill that in.  Considering I started this nearly four months ago with some leftover scrap yarn and decided to go with it, it’s not bad at all.  (Of course, we have had to purchase more yarn for this over the months, but I’ve only added a skein or two at a time.)

Here are some more detailed pics of the most recent section I was working on:

The first pic is a wide shot as it sits on the afghan, the second is more of a close-up, and the third is from the angle that I actually knitted them onto the piece.  I started with a row of five baby pink squares, then the next row of squares was variegated purple, then a row of variegated pink, then the solid gemstone purple, and capped it off with the strawberry pink square.

All right.  I made a reference to an “announcement” in the title of this post, and I will string you along no longer.

The announcement is:

There will be a wedding in the somewhat near future.  No, not mine.

My brother and his girlfriend got engaged this week!

I found out the news when she sent a picture of her engagement ring to my dad’s phone on Wednesday night (although my dad had already gone to bed by then), followed by a simple text saying “We got engaged” about 15 minutes later.  I’m not expecting them to set a date just yet, so no word on any wedding plans for the time being.  Although I must say that I have been privately calling her my “sister-in-law” for some time now.  It’ll be nice for them to finally make it legal, and I’m very happy for them.

Until next time…have a great day!

Annoyed Grunt

If any fans of The Simpsons are reading this, they will understand what I mean by that title.  If not, I’ll let you in on the reasoning at the end.

Well, I effed up my project.  I effed up my project in such a way that I had to perform some surgery on my afghan.

Surgery, you say?!  On an afghan?!  (Of course, by “afghan”, I’m referring to my hand-knitted project, not an actual person from Afghanistan.)

Yes.  I had to perform surgery on it.  Let me show you the “before” pic and explain why.

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This is the section I was working on at the time I noticed a glaring error (note that I had a square in progress).  Do you notice the error yet?

What if I gave you a closer look?

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See that variegated purple L there?  When joined to that dark purple rectangle, it creates three edges to pick up from.  That’s all fine and dandy, except that my method only allows me to use two edges to pick up for a small square, as the space between the two shapes would dictate.  I would have no way to connect the third edge to the other two.  What was I to do?

Well, the square that was in progress was no big deal.  I’d be able to frog that one (which for my non-knitting followers and readers, refers to the act of unraveling a knitted piece all the way to the end, like a frog saying, “Rip it, rip it”), since it was still attached the the skein.  However, two small squares and that variegated purple L were going to have to undergo a yarn-ectomy.  By this, I mean I would have to pick out the ends that I’d already woven in, work my back all the way to the fastening off point, and frog the whole damn piece.  (Pardon my langauge.)

Thankfully, I had already given myself a bit of an out because I have a very specific way that I tend to weave in my ends on these mitered projects.  After fastening off the last stitch or stitches, I will normally weave in that end as follows: I weave up and down alongside my center column (that chain of stockinette that runs up the middle), and then I will weave in and out of a stitch away from the edge or any cast on edges, so it makes a noticeable lump that is easy for me to detect for just this kind of situation.  I do the same thing with the yarn tail that began the piece, weaving along with the grain off the garter stitch present in that part.  When I cut my yarn tails after weaving, I always cut on the right side of the fabric, that way when the tail naturally unravels, it stays on the wrong side of the fabric rather than poke out on the right side.

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Procedure area prior to yarn-ectomy. Note that the pink square that was in progress has already been frogged.

Now, the yarn-ectomy.  First thing you want to do is look for the yarn end.  I ended up using a yarn needle to help me with some of this.  When you locate the yarn end, using a combination of your fingers (which will tug on the yarn end; look on the other side of the fabric  to see where the yarn end tugs and loosen from there, using the yarn needle to pry the yarn loose) and the yarn needle, gradually loosen, pick out the yarn end, and then tug again to find where your yarn end goes next.  Follow the yarn end in this manner until you get to the fasten-off point.

Repeat for the yarn end leading to the cast-on/picked-up edge.  There should be two yarn tails on the piece loosened prior to the next step.

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After both ends are loosened, you are free to frog the piece.

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Frogging in progress.

After frogging, I decided to store the yarn in a Ziploc bag, although this amount of yarn probably will not be enough to reknit the square.  Instead, I will store it in case I am running dangerously low on yarn while working on a shape on that particular color, then I will have enough yarn to work a Russian join (which is basically folding two ends of yarn intersecting each other, and then each tail is sewn in on itself), and finish the shape.

I did the same thing for the small pink square.  The yarn from that one also got stored in its own Ziploc bag.

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When it came time to frog the L, I repeated the same steps as I did for the squares.  However, since it took more yarn to knit the L, I knew I’d probably be able to reknit this yarn into a smaller shape, in this case a rectangle to free up a space to pick up the shape properly.  To keep the yarn from tangling, once I frogged the L, I wound the yarn into a ball and put it in its own Ziploc bag to keep the yarn clean and to allow the yarn to stay in place as I knit it (hence why there is an end hanging out of it).

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And this is what the section looked like after the yarn-ectomy.

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Now, I could replace the L with a rectangle to fill in the space.  Which is just what I did.

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The new rectangle in progress
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The finished rectangle.

I’d say the yarn-ectomy was a success and I am free to move on with this section.

By the way, the title refers to when Homer Simpson didn’t have a way in the script to describe his anger or frustration at things.  This was rendered in the earlier scripts as “(Annoyed Grunt)”.  Eventually this (Annoyed Grunt) became Homer Simpson’s world famous catchphrase, ” D’oh!”

Have a great day, everybody.  Happy reading and happy knitting!

WIPs: 6/14/2017 (or, An Update on La vie en rose et violet)

In which I give to you the latest update on my current Work in Progress.

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Detail from La vie en rose et violet

It’s been a while since I posted some actual knitting updates on here, mainly because I’ve been working on one big project instead of several smaller ones.  As you’ve seen before, I’ve been working on an afghan since March that I lovingly refer to as “La vie en rose et violet” (which is French for “Life in Pink and Purple” and a reference to the legendary song by Édith Piaf, “La vie en rose”).

The last time I wrote in depth about this project, I had been working on the sides to make the dimensions for one large, square afghan.  Since then, I’ve been slowly filling it in, churning out a few shapes in the span of a day or two.  According to my calculations, I will need to make the equivalent of 324 small squares to complete this afghan.  I am nowhere near that at the moment.  However, the 25 small squares I recently added in a checkerboard pattern does put me under 300 total small squares to go (and then some, considering I’ve already completed two side edges of it, equivalent of 18 small squares per side).

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The checkerboard!!!!1!1!!
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The checkerboard and immediate surrounding areas.

I also started a little bit on the lower left side of the afghan, and will probably start filling more of that in next.

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Portion of the lower left side of the afghan; the left edge of the checkerboard can be seen on the right side of the photo.

I hope to get more done soon, and once I have another sizable portion worked here, I’ll do another update.

Until later, and happy knitting (or for my non-knitting followers, happy reading)!

Gray, Gray, Go Away

Florida’s “wet season” has arrived in full swing after quite the dry spring.  For the last few days, the view has pretty much looked like this:

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The southwestern view from my front door; apologies for the subpar photo quality...tablet camera.

And this…

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The view from my front door, looking north.

Even my dog is bored.

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Roxy demonstrating canine ennui at its finest.

From what I gather, it is gonna be like this pretty much through the next week.  Oh boy.

Hopefully I will have some updates on my knitting soon.  I’m planning on doing another photo update once I finish a checkerboard section on the blanket that I’m currently working on.  In the meantime, I’ll tease you with a shot of the blanket in progress in its current home, a Toys R Us bag (selected because it was big enough to hold the blanket).

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Why I Knit and Crochet, and WIPs 4/12/2017

 

(A preview of my Work in Progress in the photo above.)

I touched on my motivations for knitting in my debut post here, but I’d like to write a bit more about how knitting has touched my life.

I consider myself ambicraftuous, as in I can do both of the major yarn and needle crafts, knitting and crocheting, with relative ease, and this is not always the case with knitters or crocheters.  Some crocheters don’t know how to knit or knit sparingly, and some knitters don’t know how to crochet or crochet sparingly; a great little piece on this is the Yarn Harlot entry “Hooking Because I Have To”, where she talks about dipping into some crochet skills to help out her knitting.  Though I do tend to knit more than I crochet, these days, I don’t believe in being a “yarn snob” or a “knitting snob”.  I’m not going to stick my nose up at crocheters because there are amazing things out there that can be made with just yarn and a crochet hook.  I look on in sheer awe every time I see someone who’s crocheted an amigurumi figure or used the amigurumi method to come up with their own creations.  (I was never quite able to master amigurumi as a crocheter.).  Really fine thread and the skinniest of hooks can make incredibly intricate doilies and tablecloths.  Even with some cheap worsted weight yarn and a J hook, you could make a functional scarf or a colorful afghan.  I’ve crocheted a stole for The Lady Bryan’s mom and helped my maternal grandmother crochet granny square style afghans all the way back when I was 8 or 9 years old.  I’m not going to tell you what kind of yarn you should be using because there are yarns for just about every budget and need these days.  I am perfectly okay with using cheap, acrylic yarn.  I would love to be in a position where I’d be able to get wool, but being a homemaker at the moment, it is just not possible.  So acrylic it is.  It takes a little extra care when it comes to washing items made from it, but other than that, I don’t mind it at all.  In fact, my current Work In Progress (known in our crafting community as a “WIP” and pronounced like “whip”) is being made with acrylic yarn.  I will get to that WIP shortly.

Why do I craft?  I craft for many reasons.  I craft because I’m shy and sometimes have trouble socializing, and when people ask me about my projects, it serves as an icebreaker.  I craft because I can’t draw or paint very well.  I craft because it calms my nerves when I feel anxious.  I craft because when I feel upset about something, it helps me take my mind off why I feel so upset.  I craft because I’ve been inspired.  I craft because I need something, be it a sweater to protect me from cold winter winds (and we do get those down here in Florida) or a case for my crochet hooks (which I have done before using Star Stitch).  And most importantly, I craft because I love the act of crafting.

Okay, my WIP.  Over the years, I have made a number of patchwork and quilt-like afghans using the mitering method of creating knitted shapes.  Basically, mitering works like this: you cast on an odd number of stitches onto your knitting needles (and depending on the shape you want to create, you can cast on multiple sets of the same odd number of stitches: one set makes a small square, two makes a rectangle, three an L shape, and four a large square which I would normally work in the round), knit a wrong side row (purling the center stitch in each section), and then begin working the right side row in your chosen stitch pattern (I normally use garter stitch because of its simplicity), working a centered double decrease (slip 2 together knitwise, knit 1, pass the 2 slipped stitches over the knit stitch; this puts the stitch you purled in the previous row on top and makes a lovely stockinette column in the center of each section).  Work across the row, turn, work the wrong side row (purling the center stitch of each section), turn, lather, rinse, repeat until you’ve decreased to one stitch in each section depending on the shape you’re working.  Cut your yarn, leaving a tail for weaving, fasten off (if you’re working a small square) or secure stitches like you would in the top of a hat knit in the round, weave in ends.

This one I am working on is for nobody in particular; I started it with some scrap yarn I had on hand from an old Frankenball of yarn I had made from some leftover Red Heart Super Saver (the light pink L in the corner that you’ll see and some variegated purple and some solid black).  I only got two skeins of Red Heart yarn the last time I went to my local store (Dark Orchid, which is the solid dark purple, and Panther Pink, which is the pink and black variegated), but the next time I go, I plan on getting another three or four colors, depending on budget.  By the way, I used up every single scrap of the Panther Pink in this project.  I played yarn chicken trying to finish an L piece yesterday and just barely succeeded.  I had a short tail to weave in, but it wove in!  Here is a collection of pictures from my project so far.

I give you La vie en rose et violet, whose name is a take on a favorite song of mine, “La vie en rose” by Édith Piaf, and its name is also a reference to its color scheme, pink (“rose”) and purple (“violet”).

I hope my experiment with adding photos and links has gone well.  And most of all, I hope you enjoy the pictures that I’ve shared with you here.  I can’t wait to see how this afghan turns out, because I am having a lot of fun knitting this one so far!  Until next time…