My Inner Child Wants Everything to Be Rainbow-Colored: Afghan Edition

Photo of a crocheted afghan in rainbow stripes

Raise your hand if you remember me starting a scrap project to use up the yarn left over from the scrap blanket I made for my daughter when she was born.

Yes, I am a serial scrap blanket maker.  I pull out a pile of yarn (or fabric or cut up t-shirts… my desires to both thrift and make things feed each other), decide I am going to use it all up on a scrap project, choose a project, start said project, run out of something and go buy more materials, finish said project, and then — and only then — realize that I have more materials left than when I started.  Doh!

First there was Squeaky, the quilterly knitted blanket I made for my daughter (ostensibly to use up random balls of Wool-Ease) while I waited for her to spring, fully formed, from my womb.  Which, she pretty much did if you’ve ever heard THAT story.  Oh and I ended up buying a lot of yarn to make the colors in the blanket work.  Wool-Ease has a weird palette.

About six exhausting months later, I lit upon the idea to crochet an afghan to use up Squeaky’s leftovers.  I had spied a pattern that was basically a giant granny square, but looked like an Around the World quilt.  I’m not much of a hooker, but I can handle a granny square.  So I lined up my leftover Wool-Ease and soon realized I had a rainbow palette.  Well, almost.  I just had to buy a bit more yarn.  [Cue scary music.]

Four and a half years later, the rainbow afghan of my dreams and nightmares is finished.

Photo of a crocheted afghan in rainbow stripes

 

What else do I have to say about this project?  I didn’t work on it constantly.  In fact, years passed sometimes between putting hook to wool.  It was really fun at first because crochet is FAST.

Also, I am never actually sad to buy more yarn, which this project amusingly and repeatedly required to be completed to my spec of 4 repeats.  It has 13 different colors, 12 Wool-Ease, 1 Plymouth Encore (light blue) because Lion discontinued the delft colorway.  (Why do companies get rid of good, basic, timeless colors like baby blue?  It’s Lion’s loss ultimately because now I have seen the Plymouth Yarns website and know what an amazing palette their wool-acrylic blend Encore has.)

About 2/3 of the way through this project, the rows became very long, hours to finish just one, and it was a slog.  I just wanted to be done.  I could have stopped at any time, but stubborn ol’ me wanted to stick to The Plan.

So I did.  And now the rainbow afghan lives on my couch and gets fought over — when we’re not all four crammed together with it draped over us.

The Gift of Gift Knitting

It’s really no fun to read about how crummy someone’s vacation was so we won’t dwell on it.  I’ve only just recovered, psychologically, this week.  Farewell, 2013!  Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out!

The BEST part of winter break, for me, this year was seeing how genuinely happy my husband and children were upon opening their handknit gifts.  Does that sound too cute and saccharine?  It’s true.  There were big Os of surprise, there were smiles, thanks, hugs, and kisses from four through thirty-six.  GO ME!

boot socks

(It does help that I have made it clear that the best way to get on the handknit list is to appreciate the things I make, sincerely and loudly.  This elf is making her own kind of list and checking it twice.)

For the past few years — in my efforts to enjoy the winter holiday season rather than just survive it — I’ve stepped way back from trying to make something for EVERYONE (that’s 11+ people).  It seems like a good idea in the planning stage (I looooove the planning stage), but the execution of the plan goes on too long for my available knitting time.  There’s the amount of knitting time I actually have and what I wish I had or sometimes just think I have.

Full disclosure: I was on the crazy holiday knitting train at times this season.  And then I got off.  Got on. Off.

red scarf

I try to have a pair of socks on the needle for one of the four of us at all times.  So when Z’s latest pair came off the needles in mid-November, I decided it was serendipity and tossed it in the gift knits basket.  Then I saw, in that basket, a lovely, drapey, moss stitch scarf in heathered burgundy Paton’s Classic Wool.  Guess who likes burgundy?  Not me.  But Matt does.  (Like me, his favorite color is green, so this really wasn’t obvious to me or him while I was knitting this scarf, off and on, for a couple, um, years.)

purple mittens

That only left my four-year-old, who could use a handknit pair of mittens.  Something to balance out all the pink and leopard print.  I finished on Christmas Eve, after tucking my puking children and husband into bed.

She, by the way, wins at appreciating my work.  She reminds me almost daily how much she loves her mittens. Aw! Her savvy father, in between appreciations, has already put in his request for a Purl Soho Shawl Collar Cowl.

I wish I had better pictures to share, but here I am, working at home, and my family and all their handknits are out of the house.  The dark purple of those mittens is especially difficult to capture at this gloomy time of year, while attached to a four-year-old.  More information and photos are available on their Ravelry project pages, linked above.  An account on Ravelry is required to view.

How did your handknit holidays go?

Stripe it like there’s no tomorrow

You can’t knit just two!

In my experience, creation falls into two categories: quick and slow.  Whether one is writing a story or building a piece of furniture, some things come together in a flash of frenzied inspiration, while others must cook for a long, long time.  This sock pattern falls into the latter category.  I have noodled out and knit up versions of it since December 2008 when it made it’s debut as a multicolor striped slipper sock for my brother’s girlfriend.

The organizing principle: what tiny balls of leftover yarn are in the bottom of my Wool-Ease basket?

Although I love the funky multicolor stripey-ness, this early sock needed to be knit at a tighter gauge to be more durable.

First I had a detour into some Harry Potter themed House Socks, which gave me the name, but were still too loose.

Slytherin or Gryffindor?

 

A few years later, I got around to reworking the numbers and quickly had these!

This combo of green and blue makes my eyes happy.

 

Before giving them over to the whole wide world, I had some friends test it out.  Thank you, friends!

Alison Denomme

 

Allison Phelps

 

Casey Braun — her first socks ever!  Wow!

 

Melissa White

 

Heidi Lemon

 

Abbey Buckley

More views and more socks are available on the pattern’s Ravelry page!  It is with great pleasure that I give you House Socks!  Enjoy! Please be in touch if you have any questions.  Via Ravelry is best way to contact me.

Swirly

I am now into the yoke of the Spiral Yoke Sweater.

Spiral Yoke detail
my stitches are a travelin’
another crappy, “oops, where went my daylight?” photo

I could be done (this is a theme, no?) if I weren’t distracted with some quickie knits here and there.

For example, I made warmish socks for my skinny boy:

worsted weight on little feet makes quick work

These are knit in leftover bits of Lion Brand Wool-Ease for washability and warmth.  They may be only 20% wool but that’s 20% more than all of his other socks.  The couple of handknit pair he has are in intense rotation so I decided to help a boy out.  These made a good traveling project for the month of December now that I am done knitting sleeves (ahem) for my sweater.  I think I could make a pair in 2-3 evenings of knitting if I weren’t busy with a sweater.  And I don’t sit still much while I knit.

I have been abstaining from resolutions and major project declarations so far this new year.  Not because I think it’s a useless exercise.  I am seeking clarity.  December was too busy for inward reflection.  I am a gal who appreciates a little naval-gazing, so I am at least glad to have finished December and begun January.

Now, back to my sweater and my Harry Potter movie marathon. (I’m halfway through.  The movies, that is.)

Can’t…stop…casting…on…

Entrelac Scarf by Allison LoCicero

My Castonitis has gone critical.

Here’s my latest symptom:

Mitered Mittens by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Mitered mittens; pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman; yarn is Malabrigo.  What can I say?  My hands were cold Friday and Saturday.  By Sunday all arguments that I at least finish my scarf first–because I could use the leftover yarn and have matching accessories, a thing unheard of in this house–were broken down by my stronger self and I even took the DPNs away from the entrelac (they are happy on straights so there’s no project abuse going on here).

The project I was going to write about next that was trumped by mittens:

Entrelac Scarf by Allison LoCicero

An entrelac scarf for moi using yarn my brother gave me for my birthday.  As Matt said, “It looks like that yarn was made to do that.”  By “that” he means “entrelac,” I’m pretty sure.

But since this is a post about my Castonitis, we’ll move on to the next symptom:

Jelli Beenz socks

Yes, in fact, that is the same photo from last post.  Because that was probably the last time I touched these. Uh… Out of sight, out of mind?  I have no excuse.  I am weak.

Then there’s this beauty of an excuse to buy yarn for a project that was begun to bust stash:

Around the World crochet afghan

I do actually pull this out and work on it a bit here and there because, turns out, the only thing more mindless than stockinette is shell stitch.

It breaks down from here because I cannot find all these pictures again….they’re too old…hah… So I direct you to pictures on my Flickr page.  I’m sure I could embed them somehow.  (Resolution #491: learn how to do technical stuff on your blog.)

An overdue gift and socks I started one year ago to this day:

Lace Ribbon Scarf and Jaywalker Socks

And this, my birthday gift:

Hourglass Lace Stole

So that is … seven unfinished projects I am copping to.  And I am dying to start my Ribby Cardi.  Gulp.