Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Annual Blog Post

Betcha thought this blog was dead forever, huh?

Nope. It's moribund but not dead.

Here's a post just to have one for 2009.

What did I do this year? Mostly not fiber things, unfortunately. Most of my knitting and crocheting was of small stuff, quickly done, possibly given away. I made hats, socks, little crochet doilies, small scarves, some braids, many skeins of handspun yarn, a bit of inkle weaving... You get the idea. I didn't take or save photos of most of them.

Here are two photos I took today, just so I'd have something to show off.

This first one is my current travel-knitting project. It's another scarf. I bought a few balls of mohair at a local yarn shop. It wasn't enough to do much of anything with, so a lacy scarf seemed like a fine idea. To make it nicely mindless, I went with an existing pattern. I chose a reversible scarf pattern by Charlotte Quiggle from an old issue of Interweave Knits (Fall 2000).

It's hard to see in the photo above, but there are three cables separated by two lace panels, all with a garter stitch border. The lace panels are simple eyelets on a field of purl stitches. And that makes it reversible, since the non-cable side looks like two columns of eyelets separated by purl ribs. I show both sides in the above photo.

The yarn behaves very well for doing cables without a cable needle. Each set of pattern repeats (6 rows) takes only a few minutes. One 50g skein, about 180 meters, did about 45-46 pattern repeats, long enough for a short scarf. This is going to be a very, very long scarf unless I stop the scarf before I run out of yarn.

I definitely like the pattern. It works quite nicely with the yarn/needle combo I chose. I have another couple of balls of this yarn in a different color. It might become the same thing. Or it might not.

Here is a crochet project. It's exactly what it looks like -- a large granny square. It's big enough to be a small lap afghan or baby blanket. It's made from glorious washable Red Heart, two 7oz skeins of brown and two 5oz. skeins of variegated camo colors.

I started with the standard granny square and kept going. When I was near the end of the last skein (and thoroughly sick of the endless rows), I added a small edging and stopped.

I don't think I need to give a pattern. Look up granny squares and you'll see what to do. But what the heck, here it is.

One Big Square (crocheted granny square afghan/blanket)

Get a bunch of yarn and a likely-looking crochet hook.

Chain 5 and join in a circle.

1. Chain 3 (which counts as the first dc), 2dc, ch 2, *3dc, ch 2* 3 more times, and join by doing a slip stitch into the 3rd chain of that first dc. You have four blocks of 3dcs with a ch 2 in each corner.

2. Slip stitch over to the first ch2. Then, ch 3 (counts as the first dc), 2dc, ch 2, 3dc, all into the ch2 space of the previous round. That's the two blocks in the corner. Ch1, then do it again, until you've done all four sides. After the last ch1, slip stitch into the third chain of that first ch3.

3. Slip stitch over to the first ch2. Then, ch 3 (counts as the first dc), 2dc, ch 2, 3dc, all into the ch2 space of the previous round. That's the two blocks in the corner. For each side, ch 1, 3dc into the ch1 space of the previous round, ch1. For each corner, 3dc, ch 2, 3dc. After the last ch1, join into the 3rd chain of the first dc of the corner.

4. For each round, continue in the same pattern. Slip stitch over to the ch2 of the corner. Each corner gets 3dc, ch 2, 3dc (although you ch 3 for the first stitch of the round). Each side gets ch1, 3dc, ch1, 3dc, ch1, etc., until you reach the next corner. There will be one more set of 3dcs per side for each round. So, round 1 has 1 block per side, round 2 has 2, round 3 has 3, and so on.

If the above seems confusing or has errors, it's because I'm not being all that careful about it. There are a zillion internet sites that discuss the venerable granny square. Go find another to see if it makes more sense to you. I might fix typos and obvious errors in the above, but don't bet on it being any time soon.

As you can see in the photo, I changed yarn colors whenever I felt like it. There really wasn't much of a plan. I did a few rounds in brown, then switched to camo until the first skein was gone. Then I finished the brown. After that, it was one more entire skein of camo, then the second skein of brown until the end.

When I got to the point where I was ready to scream, I finished. OK, I didn't have a ton of yarn left and didn't know if I could do another round and still have enough for an edging. Plus I was ready to scream.

My edging was suggested by some friends (thanks, gang!). It's very simple -- one round of single crochet, followed by one round of reverse single crochet. It gives a sturdy-looking finished edge. I like it a lot. Next time, I might turn over the afghan to do the edging on the reverse side. It will probably look just as good.

Some patterns call for 3 or 4 chains between the dc blocks at each corner, or 2 or 3 chains between the dc blocks on the sides. It really doesn't matter. Choose what you like. You don't even have to be consistent. I tried a bunch of variations on mine, and I can't tell at all which ones were used on which rows.

I'll be doing more of these things. The first couple of skeins' worth of blanket makes excellent travel crocheting. It's portable, mindless, not too bulky, and the rounds go quickly. After that, it gets rather tedious.


So what's next? I certainly don't know! More socks, more scarves, more hats. We need some more mittens around here, so that's probably coming up soon on the agenda. Maybe finish a sweater and start another. Maybe do another shawl or two. You get the idea. One of these days I'll pick up one of my stalled doilies and finish it, and then I'll probably be off on another Doily Obsession. (There have been some great new republished pattern collections in the past year.)

In Crochet Land, a few more of the granny square afghans. More doilies. Maybe some other stuff such as some bags or scarves or shawls.

For spinning, continue on. I've been doing duty spinning, going through roving that isn't as fun to spin. I really ought to pick a few projects that are just plain fun.

Other fiber crafts: keep puttering along. This might be the year I really take up basket-weaving. Does that count as a fiber craft? I think so, but it might depend on the basket.