Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Great Afghan Square Sew-Up: Part 2

That first lot of squares is now a finished afghan. I didn't do anything fancy with it since the squares alone made a pretty good-sized blanket. I decided I wanted the cream on the edge instead of more green, so once everything was assembled, I just worked a row of dc and a row of sc around the edge. It's now been washed and dried, which did indeed soften it up a great deal, and I like it so much I'm going to use it on my bed this summer.

This afghan was crocheted together using a slip stitch. The advantage is that you can go from one side of the blanket to the other with one piece of yarn and not have to thread needles along the way. The disadvantage is that it leaves a definite ridge on the wrong side. I prefer doing it to sewing with a mattress stitch, but I'm not entirely sold on the way it looks in the end. So I'm continuing to explore and experiment.

With that project done, it was time to face the dungeon. I took my K-hook in hand and opened the cardboard boxes. To my great surprise neither one of them contained afghan squares. Instead they both contained yarn. Just what I was hoping to find! And in the bottom of the second one, there was a huge lot of black yarn, none of it with ball band, all of it looking a bit seedy. Definitely time to use it up and make it go away. The rest of the yarn got stuffed into other storage areas so I can get rid of the cardboard boxes (at least as soon as Bart is through with them) and I'll work at this from the box until what's left will fit in the black yarn drawer.

These two boxes do contain afghan squares. I'm pretty sure the bottom one is the lot that I thought was in the cardboard boxes. It's all sorted and bagged, so for now I'll let it be and focus on the top box. It turns out to also have at least 5 projects in it. Two are blankets that were started and abandoned for various reasons. Then there are 3 separate lots of granny squares. One lot is color coordinated, and was made from the leftovers from several blankets worth of knitted squares (we won't talk about those just now; they're in another box). They need to be joined with something color-coordinated, perhaps brown, so for now they're set aside. Of the remainder, one lot seems to have a row of black incorporated, and the other is done with alternating bands of one row of one color and two rows of the next. They even alternate whether they start with two rows the same or one. There's quite a lot of those, so that's what I'm going to start with.

The next question was how to join them. I know I want to work a row of black around each square, so that gives me an interesting option of joining as I go. The technique is demonstrated here:
The sample that I've tried seems to go quite easily and gives a join that is both flat and soft. So now I'm ready to head to the Big Easy Chair with my stack of squares, a skein of "mystery black," my K hook, a cup of coffee, and my current audiobook, Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I expect to come up for air sometime next week.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Great Afghan Square Sew-Up

 The Great Afghan Square Sew-Up has begun. I decided to start with these, since they're closer to a Finished Object than some of the other collections. These have been lurking in the bathroom off the studio. (This is a bathroom only in the sense that it has a commode and a lavatory; otherwise it is so crammed full of junk as to be unusable.) They were mostly already sewn together into "foursies" and a quick count showed that there are 15 of them, so a 3 x 5 arrangement is evidently what I had in mind. I also have a vague memory that I meant to work some rows around the "foursies" then sew those larger squares together.

So that's what I've been working on. There's a good bit of yarn in the same bag that was holding the squares. I'm not sure what size hook I was using, but I seem to remember that it was my old worn size E, so that's what I've been using. It's a bit tight, but it will probably soften up with washing. I'm just adding a row of the cream and a row of the green, then assembling the row of 3 of these units as they are completed. I'm also working in the yarn tails as I go, so that there will be less of them to worry about at the end. At that stage I was cutting them pretty short, so they're a bit fiddly to bury, but I'm getting there. 

Meanwhile I can start thinking about which set to tackle next. There are multiple possibilities.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Scrap Blanket #2 Is Finished

 Start with this (which was actually a bunch of skeins with no ball bands lurking in the black yarn drawer, and, yes, I have a drawer just for black yarn, and another for white yarn, which has nothing to do with segregation, just making good use of space):
 Add this: 60 balls of miscellaneous left-over yarn balls (which I do store in kitty litter pails because of a certain black cat who likes to make fiber art of his own design)
Crochet like a mad woman for some indeterminate number of days, snip off all the yarn tails, give the finished object a spin in the washer and dryer, and you end up with this:
 This one is rather large. It will adequately cover the average professional football player. It's actually larger than I meant it to be, but I wanted to use all the yarn that was in the pail. I quit with 4 small balls left when I realized I either had to stop or tie on another skein of black (I think I used 5 all together, but I'm not sure how many of them had been partially used). I didn't do anything fancy on the edge of this one either, for the same reason; just did a row of single crochet around to give a more finished edge.

The good news is this. I started out a month ago with this:

And now I'm down to this: Which is still a lot of yarn sitting in kitty litter pails, but it's not as much. And that was the whole idea. Now I'm on to the next stage, which is dealing with what's in that ugly cardboard box. What's in there are granny squares that I bought on Ebay a few years ago, thinking a good project for me would be to rescue other people's unfinished projects. What I forgot in the excitement of buying the lot for $4.95 plus shipping was that I hate sewing crocheted and knitted squares together. One of my resolutions for this year is to turn all my collections of squares into finished blankets. It's nearly May; I should probably start on that. 

And because every fiber artist deserves a moment of glory, here is Bart's latest creation. Note the interplay of tension and relaxation and the way every chair and table leg is included in the finished design at least once. He worked hard on this one, I can tell. I can't tell if the small disconnected piece in the lower left is part of the larger work or some sort of independent creation; maybe he just bit off a piece to see what it tasted like. He rarely comments on his work; if I'm not smart enough to understand, he doesn't have the time or the patience to waste on me. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

More Scraps, More Blankets

Since I still have 5 kitty litter pails full of leftover yarn balls (and that's just counting the acrylic worsted), I'm making another scrappy spiral blanket. This time I decided to get tricky and start with a rectangle. If you Google "rectangular granny square" you will find a number of ways to start a granny rectangle. The one I chose was this:
The center doesn't have as obvious a line down the middle, and there were lots of pictures to help me adapt to the spiral start.

This is what I have so far. Except for the shape it will look pretty much the same as the first one. The only other change is in the way I'm counting how many balls of yarn are used. This lot in general is a little bigger than the last lot, and I didn't want multiple rows of the same color, especially in the beginning when the rows are relatively short. So I decided it was okay to cut the yarn and return the ball to the pail, to use up the rest of it later. This means counting snipped yarn tails won't work as a way to count the number of balls used. So I decided to just count how many balls were in the pail; I started with 60. I can add or subtract from here as needed.
Plans for #3 are in the works. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Ending Off the Scrap Blanket

Eventually you run out of yarn or patience or just decide the blanket is as big as it needs to be. I decided to stop when I had used the last ball in the bowl I started with. When you decide it's time to stop, then you have to figure out how to stop. Since I was using the black to give the blanket some unity, I had decided I would finish the blanket with a round (actually two) of black. So I picked an edge to stop on, worked the first round of color to that edge and ended with a 3dc cluster. Then I worked the second round of color to that same edge and worked 2 dc in the top of the last dc in the round below.

I then worked the black around the corner, making the combination of 3dc cluster, ch2, 3dc cluster in the top of the last dc in the round below (purple). The next 3dc cluster was worked in the side of the next round (blue/grey) and from then around as normal. You are very aware at this point that this corner is not like all the others, but once you step away from it for a while, you'll forget all about it.
I had originally planned to end the blanket there, but then this morning I was watching Knitting Daily on PBS, and saw an idea for an edging that I thought would work perfectly for this blanket, especially if worked in a multi-color yarn. I did break out a brand new skein for this, but it could be done in scraps as well if you wanted. I didn't want to have to fuss with burying yarn tails at this point, so having enough yarn to go all the way around the blanket was important.
I started with making a ch1 and a sc, then a ch 3 in the black in the ch2 space of the corner. I dropped the black yarn. Then in the next stitch I tied on the color, worked a sc in the top of that same stitch, then a sc in the next stitch and a ch 3. Then I dropped the color yarn and picked up the black again. The ch 3 in the color and that yarn are held in front of the working row, as you can see in the photo. With the black work a sc in each of the next 2 sts (doesn't matter if it's the top of a dc or a ch1 space), ch 3 and drop the black. Pick up the color, hold the black ch 3 and the yarn in front, and work a sc in each of the next 2 sts, then a ch3. Repeat and repeat and repeat. You will notice that the yarns end up all twisted around each other and you will have to stop and untwist them; yes, it's annoying, but the result is worth the extra effort, I think.