Mariposa damaged and repaired

I honestly had thought that the first thing to go on the wonderful Mariposa throw would be that green border around the edge. I was so convinced of this that I hummed and hawed for days about whether or not to attach the border the way it was written.

In the end, the border has held up just fine. No toes have gotten stuck (nor little fingers) despite much use for such elegant and esteemed purposes as television watching, book reading, hammock swinging, teddy bear wrestling, and pillow fort building.

One might chalk it up to the fact that my kids are taller than I am now and know to be gentle with handcrafted goods, but there are toddlers and preschoolers who visit regularly enough for that not to be true. They gravitate to the Mariposa throw for the bright colours, I think.

When they aren’t going after the tiger print Minky that’s so soft and so fierce all at once, that is.

With all the loving the various blankets get, it’s a wonder they hold up as well as they do.

A few weeks ago, B came to me with a mournful look on her face. “Mama, the flower blanket is coming apart,” she announced.  A mournful event indeed! I hurried over to have a look, fully expecting to see a trailing fuzz of green yarn ends somewhere around the perimeter, but it was perfect. So perfect, I couldn’t tell where, if anywhere, it was coming undone until B showed me: one of the mariposa flowers had just sort of unzipped itself from its surrounding white bed of clustered stitches. A few quick repair stitches later and you can’t tell there was ever anything amiss, but now I catch myself running my gaze over the cheerful rows of flowers every time the blanket comes out, just waiting for another sneaky mariposa to try to escape its bed of white.

As for the green border, it’s as perfect as the day it was added and I now suspect it will be for a very long time to come.

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Getting ready for February

As I have mentioned before, I don’t suffer from a case of January start-itis when it comes to crafting. Instead, I take January to breathe in all I have finished in the preceding year and finish up a few odds and ends I didn’t quite manage to get done the year before.

And then, in February, I find myself admiring this and ooh-ing over that and before I know it, I’ve started half a dozen projects and have my eye on half a dozen more.

But this year, I found myself selling far more pieces than in previous years and I had almost more work than I could handle in the lead-up to Christmas. So much so that crafting for family was put on the back burner and crafting for myself hasn’t happened at all for almost half the year.

It’s hard to fathom.

As 2016 wrapped up, I started taking a mental inventory of all the things I want to finish, or at least make more progress on. And then I went digging through my shelves to see what I had meant to start but not gotten around to in a while, and found all sorts of buried treasures. I suspect I have enough to carry me through the entire year if not longer, especially given that I am still getting commissions for other things and will be devoting time each week to those items and have less time than usual for my own crafting. So I am determined to at least make a little progress on some projects–some that have not been touched in quite a long time now.

The first of which is a fire truck that I thought a certain young man had long outgrown a fascination for, but it turns out he remembers that I had started stitching a piece for him and he has decided he wants me to finish it for him after all.

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Working on this piece, even for a little while, made me recall a few other cross stitched pieces half done and sitting in the cupboard, so progress on those would be lovely, too. A Christmas sampler:

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A lovely witch/wizardess/goddess piece that was gifted to me partially done and our girl B instantly claimed (so I could finish it on her behalf, of course. She’s generous like that). I think it was the fact that the lady in question is reading a book that caught her eye.

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And a gorgeous Teresa Wentzler that I started many years ago and had completely forgotten about.wentzler

Of course, before I get to those, I have a mermaid tail to finish up – it’s almost done, just weaving in the ends to do. Approximately 6 bazillion ends, and you know how very much I love weaving in ends. (I don’t. At all. Why I keep taking on crochet projects built from blocks is beyond me. Remind me, would you please, to stop doing that?)

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This mermaid tail is from a pattern by The Felted Button. She has the most colourful, textural, gorgeous crochet patterns – check out her site if you never have. Here a closeup of the tail so you can get a better idea of what the triangular blocks look like:

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The tail is done in sock-weight yarn (it’s skinny!) and the yarns all have either a strand of glittery metallic thread or sequins or both woven in to them. It makes for a lovely, shimmery, fish-scale effect that’s missing from the photos above.

Another crochet pattern I want to finish up is this:

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It’s a lovely lace-weight shawl that I started on the plane to Cuba and then never found the time to get back to. As it’s for me, it’s easy to put it aside for other people, but when I look at it, it has been over a year now since I set it down. The pattern is lovely and intricate with bands of colourful lacework in various stitches in the centre and a wide strip of Bruges lacework on either edge.

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It’s going to be a couple of months at least before I get my hands back into this one, but I’m hoping to finish it by summer. Then, maybe I’ll find the perfect pattern for this lovely yarn:

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It has been sitting in my “wishful yarn bliss” pile for a few months now. I’m not yet sure what it will look like, but it will be either a scarf or a hat to keep me warm in winter.

On the embroidery front, I’ve been working on another tree skirt project. This one is from a kit, but I will be embellishing heavily with embroidery, as I did with the Peace Joy Noel wall hanging a few years ago. You can see how thoroughly embroidery-encrusted I plan to make it in the Love Letters piece I did after taking Sharon Boggon’s class.

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Last, but certainly not least, I hope to get another 2 blocks finished on my crazy quilted and embroidered wall hanging.

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The currently finished blocks are on the right in the picture above.

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The two empty blocks on the left are pieced, but not yet embroidered.

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The blocks are 10-inch squares and I think the finished piece will end up being 3×3 blocks with a border of some sort.

So, an ambitious plan for 2017, but one of progress, not necessarily completion, given how many other things are in the works both with myself and for the kids.

What do you have planned for this bright and shiny new year?

Pointy things and then more pointy things.

When last I posted, I was pondering whether or not to add the border to the Mariposa throw. In the end, I did–but true to form, I did not follow the recipe.

Oh, I mostly did, at least for the first row, building the border bit by bit as it wove its way up one point and down another, skipping over the valley to make a little point of its own. But when it came time for the second round, I decided to do things a little differently and worked a back post stitch instead, giving the border the same lush thickness found on the rest of the throw’s squares.

I still have doubts about how sturdy the little toe-catching loops are going to be, but it’s done now, for better or worse.

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And with the Mariposa finished, something else covered in points found itself flying off my hook:

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Isn’t he the sweetest little toothy guy?

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He’s done in a combination of super bulky and worsted weight yarns, and the pattern is a mish-mash of things I’ve seen elsewhere combined with quite a few modifications of my own.

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Everyone keeps commenting on his eyes and I must say, I am terribly pleased with how they turned out.

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I’ve documented what I did on Ravelry (more or less – it’s not a formal pattern per se, just enough notes so I could duplicate what I did should I choose to in the future). It’s meant to be a preschooler/child size, but it could easily be made smaller or larger by adjusting the number of increase rounds in the crown of the hat before beginning to work straight.

A finished Mariposa

Sometime last night, this happened:

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It’s my Mariposa throw, sewn together and tails woven in (except for one random green one, I see, that managed to sneak past me). Forgive the terrible photo – it was taken late at night using my phone instead of getting a proper photo shoot.

Within minutes of finishing, this blanket found itself wrapped around our girl B. She still proclaims loudly to anyone who will listen that she simply does not understand why this blanket is a family blanket and not a blanket just for her.

And then she announces–also loudly–that I have to make her one of her own.

I have pointed out that she knows how to crochet and could make herself one, but judging from the scandalized look I got in return, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

In the meantime, I’m going to sew in that last green tail and contemplate some more whether or not I want to put the green border on that the pattern calls for.

The border is bothering me, you see. It’s perfect, matching the stems as it does. It’s a lovely pop of colour, too.  But the Mariposa throw has an irregular border that zigs and zags all the way around, and the border includes a funny little zig and zag of its own, leaving little triangular loops in the inside edges of the zigs and zags.

I have visions of people catching fingers and toes in the little loops and damaging the blanket. (Not their toes. Why would I worry about their toes? Let’s be serious here.)

You can see the loops I’m talking about on the pattern page at the Felted Button; just scroll down to the last picture in the post for a really clear look.

So I think I’m going to let it sit for a day or two while I ponder the border. Maybe I’ll leave off the loops, or maybe fill them in with double and treble stitches to make them solid bits instead of loops. Or maybe I’ll do them just as prescribed and see what happens.

What do you think?

Old faithful

One of the things I have learned about myself over the years is that when it comes to crafting, I am not a very loyal person. Some crafters choose a project, get their materials, and then work on that project–and only that project–until they are done.

I am not one of those people.

Instead, at any given moment, you can find works in progress in practically every room of the house.

(Though not the bathroom. Or the kitchen. Knitting and cooking does not mix. Neither does crocheting and cooking. Though both are perfectly acceptable when keeping an eye on something going on in the kitchen from a nearby room without looking like you’re keeping an eye on anything at all.)

(Have I mentioned my children have been cooking a lot lately?)

(Like, a lot a lot?)

An acquaintance of mine announced a couple weeks ago that she was on a tremendous push to finish up all her WIPs and UFOs so that she could be one of those crafters. You know, the ones who always finish what they’ve started before they start something new.

My mother-in-law is one of those crafters, I suspect, as I’ve only ever seen her with a single knitting project on the go at any given time in all the years I’ve known her.

But one look around my house will only serve to confirm what you might have suspected: staying faithful to a single project until it’s finished is just not my cup of tea.

Case in point: I hooked the first chains of the Mariposa throw in 2013.

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A few squares finished, it then took a back seat to more urgent projects for friends who keep insisting on having babies. A few more squares finished and it took a back seat to friends having second babies or celebrating momentous first birthdays.

And so on and so on until, sometime before Christmas, I realized I had not worked on it for a very long time.

It’s a classic case of the cobbler’s children not having any shoes — the Mariposa throw is, after all, destined to belong to me.

But with Christmas crafting finished for the year, it came out of the cupboard once more and with a surprising little bit of faithful crafting on my part and only one emergency run to the yarn shop for more green wool, the squares are entirely done.

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(There are more than these – this is just a small sampling.)

It’s astonishing how faithfully I managed to work away at it. Well, except for the times I was working on little hearts.

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And making little tags for little hearts.

And then of course there’s the times I wasn’t at home crafting, so had to work on the traveling-in-my-purse project instead.

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(It’s Adrienne Lash’s lovely windowpane scarf)

And then there’s those moments when I need a break from work but don’t feel like going all the way upstairs, so I work on a little taking-a-break-at-my-desk project, the Globetrotter shawl.

I would show you pictures, but I haven’t been taking very many breaks at my desk lately and am only about 17 rows in. It uses a new-to-me technique, Bruges lace, and I’m still figuring out exactly how that works, so those 17 finished rows are actually more like 2,986,248,563 rows ripped out and 17 put back in again, but I think I’ve finally figured out how it all works and I am hopeful that I’ll have a finished shawl before I’m a grandmother.

But overall, I’ve been astonishingly faithful to the Mariposa throw. I’ve even resisted an almost overwhelmingly infectious case of New Year startitis (whereby you look at all the yarn you were gifted at Christmas, and all the yarn you never did use from last Christmas, and all the yarn you bought when you were just browsing, and you start 92 new projects with grand ambitions of finishing them all immediately).

Looking back on things, I’ve actually been pretty good at avoiding New Year startitis in January most years. But February? February is an entirely different story. February is the month where I typically either finish up something or get really, really close to being finished something I’ve been meaning to get to…and then I cast on every pretty thing I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

This February, I’m about 3 hours away from being done with the Mariposa throw. All that remains is finishing sewing the squares together and then sewing in all the tails.

(There are a lot of tails.)

So naturally, this happened:

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It’s an adaptation of a women’s cabled headband pattern. I worked it up in a super bulky yarn and made it into a close-fitting cowl instead.

I worked on it in bits and pieces over the past 3 days, feeling terribly guilty for being unfaithful to my Mariposa throw will all it’s nine gazillion ends to be sewn in, and before I could blink, it was done.

And then it was around one of the kids’ necks, and then around the other kid’s neck, and now I have to start two more of them lickety split so that everyone has one of their own instead of everyone fighting over this one. So I cast another on.

And then I was wondering if, instead of doing cables, I could make one with a diamond-shaped front-post double crochet stitch, so I grabbed yet another hook and another hank of yarn and started playing around with stitches, trying to figure it out. And then I remembered I had bought the most luciously soft yarn in a delicate cream and gorgeously rich turquoise to make the mittens I saw in the knitting magazine B bought me for Christmas, and I remembered I needed to work up a gauge swatch to make sure I had the right needles, and so I cast that on instead of reading just before bed.

And I liked how the swatch felt so very, very much that on an emergency run to the yarn store for more white yarn to finish sewing together the Mariposa squares (because really, if I’m working hard at staying faithful to the Mariposa, it really helps if I actually have the amount of yarn required for sewing together so very many squares), and upon seeing the “Buy 2 get 1 free” sign on the shelf, I immediately threw another ball of white and one of softest gray into my basket for a second pair of the same mittens, just in a different colour.

So much for being loyally devoted to the Mariposa throw until it’s finished, though I’ve learned something about myself in the process (or maybe just remembered it):

I don’t suffer from New Year startitis like so many others do. Instead, I get it in February, every single year, sure as rain. Or Old Faithful.

 

 

I {heart} hearts

I’ve had Valentines on the mind lately. We’re taking our Girl Guide unit on a 2-day sleepaway on Valentines weekend in February, for one thing. I’m currently trying to decide whether or not I dare attempt to have them sleep in snow coffins for part of our weekend (I confess I’ve never built a snow coffin that I can remember, despite my love of snow forts and snow castles).

But that’s not why I’ve been obsessing over hearts.

This is:

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Isn’t it the sweetest little crocheted thing you’ve ever seen?

Little being the key word here. These are crocheted in a fine mercerized cotton thread with a teeny tiny hook. Seriously, it’s miniature.

To put it in perspective, the afghan I’m working on takes a 5.0 mm hook. These little hearts are worked in a 1.5 mm hook. It’s so tiny, I need to wear my reading glasses to see the stitches, and even then, sometimes I stitch into the wrong spot because the stitches are just that tiny.

I’ve wondered more than a few times while making these if heart surgeons have these problems too.

I’ve made quite a few of them now, in several different variations. Some are solid instead of lacy. Others have had beads or swarovski crystals added to them.

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Some of them are made of larger thread with a slightly larger hook — a 2.0 mm or 3.0 mm hook is lovely for the fatter threads and thinner yarns.

Once finished, I back my little hearts in felt for stability, then add a bar pin so you can wear it as a brooch, and finally add my label so you know who made it.

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They take a little while to do, but they’re perfect for keeping your hands busy for an hour or so.

I do love crafting so very, very much. And I absolutely {heart} my little hearts.

A little bit of colour…

When it comes to making things from yarn, there is one thing I think all knitters and crocheters will agree on: sewing in the ends is a horrible, terrible, tedious job.

Oh, there’s nothing difficult about it, really. It’s just boring.

This is why I tend to work in single colours, or in lovely variegated and self-patterning yarns that don’t require more than 2 ends to be fastened down at the end of the project. It’s also why I tend to avoid projects made up of blocks, even the sew-together-as-you-go kind, as they inevitably require 72 blocks. Which means there will be 144 ends to weave in. Which usually results in much cursing.

And which totally does not explain the presence of this bit of colourfulness on my rocking chair at the moment:

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I blame it on Lion Brand.

The this in question is the Fireworks Hexagon Picnic Blanket by Lion Brand, and it is an absolutely wonderful jumble of bright colours and fun hexagons. As an added bonus, it’s a join-as-you-go afghan, which means there’s no sewing together to do at the end.

You just make a hexagon…

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Join it to its neighbours…

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And voila!

Except for the six hundred ends to weave in at the end.

You think I’m kidding? Try this on for size…

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The blanket is made up of 60 hexagons. Each hexagon is made up of 5 colours. Each colour has a tail of yarn at the start, and another at the end. Last time I checked, 60 x 5 x 2 = 600.

The pattern oh so sweetly suggests “To reduce the number of ends to weave in, work over the ends of the old color when working the next rnd.”

The problem is, with granny square blocks, even hexagonal ones, there isn’t a whole lot of space to work over the ends. At best, you’ve secured the tail with six double crochets worked in a chain 2 space. Fine for a decorative doily, I suppose, but absolutely insufficient for a blanket that is going to be used and loved and tossed in a wagon and thrown on the grown and rolled up in like a burrito. (What. Don’t you always roll up in your handmade blankets like a burrito?)

For blankets that are destined for a lot of active loving, you absolutely must have secure ends or you’ll wind up with a holey blanket. And sometimes even when you do have secure ends, you still wind up with a holey blanket, because, well, that’s what blankets do.

So while I’m dutifully crocheting over ends when I can, the further I get into this project, the less I can deny it: There are a lot of ends waiting to be woven in when I’m done.