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Category Archives: Crochet

happy haiku

Yesterday I met up with some friends whom I last saw in January. I’m sure you’ll believe me when I say that we had much to discuss. Another of the group is a serious writer, better able to dedicate herself to writing, now that she’s retired. At one point, we were chatting about the challenges presented by various literary forms. We agreed that haikus are hard work, even in English.

I wrote this off the cuff for a Lockdown Creative Writing Group to which I contribute somewhat sporadically. There’s no seasonal reference as in a traditional haiku, but the syllable count is correct. Perhaps that’s enough of an achievement.

As I’ve demonstrated at length on this blog, my creativity has lately been channelled elsewhere. I explained that to the group rather than simply launch into a haiku that I knew didn’t meet the writing brief. I also shared photos of the two new blankets, so that both my “creating in another medium” and my poem might make more sense to other group members:

I chose their colours with care
Without knowing then
How well they would suit them both.
 

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scrub-a-dub

So now what? More than one day’s effort, really, but a good little wind-down exercise.

Because I’d had a weekend day in front of the computer doing something far too much like work – not complaining, because I was helping a friend, but admitting that it was a little too much screen time – and because I had the yarn Right There where I was sitting, I made some giant face scrubbies. YoungB thought they were coasters, but they’re not quite large enough (in my opinion). They’re pure cotton, so eco-friendly. Because they’re cotton they’re washable, meaning reusable many times. Eco-friendly again. Could they get any better?!

The question now is, do I make an accompanying laundry bag? Or should I simply enclose them in some heavy paper with the laundering instructions? Given how cold it is in my sewing room – much too cold to work there – the paper sounds like an appealing option. The purists would argue that paper isn’t quite as eco-friendly as a reusable fabric bag, but if I’m providing laundering instructions, they have to be written on something.

Made with 10-ply Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton held with 8-ply Lincraft cotton using a size G / 5.0 mm crochet hook and a mixed and matched pattern from several www sources. They’re nothing very extraordinary, but the crab-stitched final round is nice.

Please forgive the very poor photos and believe me when I say that they’re the pick of the bunch!

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2020 in Crochet

 

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alone and unarmed

What I ended up buying. Whichever way you look at it, it’s not cream. Image from Lincraft’s webpage.

I recently visited our LYS myself, seeking cream-coloured yarn. When I eventually found the store – that part was probably harder for me than it had been for Dr B – I was overcome by remorse: I’d sent Dr B into that store all alone and (relatively) unarmed, and with neither executive power nor sufficient information to make on-the-fly decisions about substituting other yarns should the one I’d asked for be unavailable. Poor man 😀

He said there were no signs, which I’d doubted, and can now confirm is not true. However, I agree that they might not have been meaningful to him. Even I had to think a bit about where the particular yarn I wanted might be lurking, given that that’s not the bricks-and-mortar location I usually frequent. But the yarn stands were right near the door and not easily missed. Finding particular yarns was trickier.

As it turned out that the particular yarn I wanted had all sold, or not been restocked, I then had to decide what I could substitute. But, of course, I had a lot more information at my fingertips to assist with that decision: I could feel the yarn to test thickness. I could look at the colour. I could assess whether coriander – that sort of mustard-yellow in the photo – would work with what I had already done AND what I planned to do. Dr B could have felt and looked at the yarn, but minus the critical info as to my plans – and, you know, plans are plans but if you have to change them, they’re more like “I might do this” ideas – his hands were tied.

That he did come home with the white yarn was miraculous enough, I think!

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2020 in Crochet

 

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colours and corners

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One row to tidy the bumpy bits

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A second row to add a bit of weight

Multiplication is commutative. Therefore, it is a fact that the long side of a row of five, four-inch squares will be 20 inches AND the long side of a row of four, five-inch squares will also be 20 inches. That’s the top of the baby rugs. With me so far?

Now factor in the joining round. Those five, four-inch squares have become five, five-inch squares. The long side of that row is now 25 inches. Let’s say those four, five-inch squares are now six-inch squares. The long side of that row is now – yes. Quite. The answer is NOT 25 inches.

The long side of a row of seven, four-inch squares that make the rainbow blanket is 28 inches; and 35 inches with the joining rounds calculated in. The long side of a row of six, five-inch squares that make the flower blanket is 30 inches; and 36 inches with the joining rounds included in the calculation.

I note that I usually think and work in metric measurements, but my pegboard is old and, understandably, Imperial; hence the sudden return to the old system. Whichever numbers I used, my calculations indicated that the overall area was similar, although one would be longer and thinner than the other.

In practice, the rainbow blanket was worked more loosely to accommodate the puffiness of the pattern, so it has more give and turned out a shade larger than calculated. The African flower pattern is flatter, so the blanket worked to a firmer, denser fabric and was a shade smaller than calculated at completion of joining.

I had planned a three-round, tricoloured border for the rainbow blanket, but as soon as I worked that first round of red (UK) dc, I knew it didn’t need more colour than that. It also didn’t need a wide border, because there’s so much going on in the body of the blanket. I worked a round of red htr and finished off the ends.

With its body being less busy despite containing a greater number of colours, the African flower blanket could carry a wider border, and a mix of colours would not be out of place. I worked the tidying round in parchment dc, and one of olive green dc in the same direction. To help reduce fluttery edges, I then worked a round of olive green htr in the opposite direction. The final round of light-mustard htr clusters worked into alternate stitches in the original direction pulled the edges back nicely and provided a firm finish.

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Four rounds using three colours from the main palette

So that’s what I’ve been up to, giving myself headaches and having a good time.

How about you? 😀

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2020 in Crochet

 

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dowel pins, dowelling or chopsticks

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I made it work when I was able to spread out under the pergola. But it’s too cold for that now.

When I needed to block my granny squares, I went hunting in the shed. I’m a great believer in using what you have and I knew that Dr B had a stash of pegboard. He was happy to give me a sheet, so I cleaned it up then scratched my head in an effort to make it work! I wasn’t able to find any dowelling and ended up buying a pack of small dowel pins, for which we will undoubtedly find other uses.

As you can see, I padded the holes and made the dowel pins fit. Their height, or lack of it, was the truly limiting factor. The rainbow squares were – indeed, still are – puffy rather than flat. At that time of the year, I was able to spread out under the pergola. That I could only fit three squares per set wasn’t too much of a drama. I simply added another square to the board and away we went.

I admit I tried chopsticks, but couldn’t convince myself that they fitted well enough. Also, given that I could spread out, it wasn’t necessary to go higher. Times change, by which I mean that it’s now winter and cold and I’ve decided that I can pad the pegboard even more than I did for the dowels so that chopsticks DO fit!

I have now built myself a single-block tower using the straightest chopsticks from our collection – accumulated over many years – to give me height. They’re not wooden, so there’s no likelihood that the yarn will snag.

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It’s not perfect but it does the job, and I can use it to block all the squares for one blanket 😀

I’d seen someone else doing a neat trick with pegs, in that case providing some tension on the squares. I hunted in my peg bag (joint contributions, don’t you know) and found those pegs. They’re hopeless at the job for which they were intended, but they work well here in providing tension not on the squares, but on keeping the tower square.

Ah, improvisation. Don’t you love it?

 

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the idea of blue

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It’s amazing how little you can have to show at the end of a day without even one long meeting 😀

Restrictions on our movements are relaxing, and we are slowly returning to our offices. I am not relaxing at all with regard to my crochet. Having completed the rainbow blanket, I am now re-energised in terms of the neutrals. It really is mostly neutrals, and they are lovely. I thought that a round of colour in each square would help to define each petal without overwhelming the generally soft palette. Initially, I aimed for things not associated with current gender norms, but my dodgy colour vision has probably let me down.

You can imagine how it goes: what I think is lilac will probably turn out to be someone else’s idea of blue. What I think is pale jade will probably turn out to be someone else’s idea of blue. What I think is dark jade is probably going to be someone else’s idea of blue. So, in case all of that is true, I’m adding in a couple of colours that are unquestionably whatever they are. One is a yarn whose name is French rose, so when I say it’s pink, I’m not relying solely on my judgment of its appearance. It works beautifully with the cream and grey that are the dominant colours in each square. I’m trying to source some mustard yellow – which Dr B was unable to find – and wondering if I could possibly wind off another 50g of sage green and some berry, to make sure that at least some of the outline colours won’t be anyone’s idea of blue.

Does that sound ideal?

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2020 in Crochet

 

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man on a mission

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Auditing joining-round colour options for the next blanket 😉

When I ran out of yarn, I sent Dr B on a mercy mission to purchase more! He was looking for an excuse to take his motorbike for a run, so I asked if he could drop in to the LYS and pick up some more white for me. He was delighted to oblige. When he returned triumphant, he said he’d felt quite overwhelmed by the experience. I’d given him ball bands and clear instructions, but the present staffing levels arising from COVID-19 restrictions don’t allow personal assistance and he’d had No Idea what he was looking for (or where to look for it) in what is one of the larger stores. It’s a bit how I feel when they send me off on lunchtime errands to auto shops or bike shops (not something that happens often nowadays, but certainly did in the past), so I was generous with my thanks and praise.

I’ve crocheted through another couple of – shorter – work meetings to great effect, using the new yarn. The end is almost in sight, because what’s left now is the border. If push came to shove, I would call it finished as is: the squares are all joined together and, as they’re edged with white, there’s necessarily a white edge around the whole thing. I think it needs at least one more bordering round to tidy the corners that don’t meet as well as they could; but more likely three, to set it off nicely and reintroduce some colour, perhaps in a simple but decorative manner. So, when I’ve an hour or two to spare – and without doing all the joins, straight crochet around the edges of a baby blanket is a lovely, simple thing! – I can probably sort that out.

Meanwhile, when I can summon the concentration for trickier work, I’m doing quite nicely with the African flower squares. They’re very different and equally as lovely but work to a slightly larger finished size. This is somewhat headache-inducing in terms of calculating how large a blanket they will make in comparative terms, so that there’s a reasonably equitable outcome. I will soon need to make a decision about not only the number of them I require but also which joining method I intend to use. A variant of the one I used for the rainbow blanket is likely to come out the winner. I reckon I understand that method now, and it’s a good way to tidy up any dodgy edges. I found more of those than I’d expected in the rainbow squares. I knew about one in the first square I’d made but  – as you might expect in something made over such a long period of time – I discovered a couple of others that had escaped my attention. Ahem.

I also need to consider what joining colour to use, because – experience being a great teacher – I’ve realised that I absolutely don’t have enough of anything to do the joining round 😀

 

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2020 in Crochet, Motorcycling

 

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it only takes a couple extra efforts

Definitely going to need another ball of yarn. The big one at the back doesn’t match.

Yesterday’s “short, sharp and shiny” meetings – we’re usually very good at ensuring that they are – were long, blunt and quite dull. There was a lot of important information, but because of my not having any workplace equipment at home, I could zone out during that part. I did; to the extent that I managed to finish attaching another row of my blanket.

I did more of it last night, very dedicatedly shutting myself away from the boys and the TV to keep up with the joining.

Today it was computer outages that allowed me a bit of extra hooking time. And, you’re right, if I’d thought about it soon enough, I could have used my slightly-too-thick white yarn to do the lot, and nobody would have noticed. I didn’t think about that as a solution until much, much too late. So, you know, bother, and a trip to the LYS has become a necessity. But I am very pleased with how the blanket is looking and the speed with which it is now progressing.

Details at some later date, but in the meantime… I’m off to be a hooker 🙂

 

 

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stuck here for a bit

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I have completed a bit more since joining my new yarn

As you can see, the blanket-making is showing good progress, but Life pressing in with its usual urgency means I’m now going to struggle to find large chunks of time that aren’t circumscribed by employment necessities.

YoungB will be back at his office from tomorrow, hence today is a little less casual and cosy than it could be as we get the last bits and pieces sorted out. He took his equipment back yesterday and plans to ride his pushbike tomorrow so that he doesn’t lose the benefit of any lockdown fitness gains, or squander money on a bus fare when he could choose a cheaper option. Really, Adelaide’s bus fares are not as exorbitant as he thinks, but they are a consideration when you’re trying to be careful of both your money and the planet. Later on, he’ll do a cook-up.

My office starts a staged return the following Monday, whatever that means in real terms. I have no departmental equipment so I might be one of the first to return because I can simply go to my desk, stoke up and start working. Or, because I don’t have any departmental equipment, I might be one of the last so that I can continue to be productive at home while everyone else gets IT issues sorted out amid considerable noise and disruption. It won’t be seamless, but our local corporate team is excellent, so it will certainly be as smooth as possible. As I’ve said before, I’ll simply do as I’m told.

Given that our “new normal” probably means future WFH is likely to be approved for folk not sick enough to stop working but potentially carrying a contagion – if, for example, you have a cough that is probably harmless but might not be; and nobody would want to risk the latter – I will buy another ergonomic mouse this week, so that I have one at home and one at work. Just in case. Also, flu season is on its way.

I’ve already done a reasonable amount of joining work on the blanket: by now seven squares are fully enclosed. However, there are 35 squares in total. As you can see, some are already partially enclosed but I don’t think I could claim I’m truly at the halfway mark and I’ve had to start my second ball of white cotton yarn. Considering all of that, I might also make a mercy dash to my LYS to purchase another one. I can’t imagine how cranky I’d be if I ran out half a square from the end! As it’s white, it would always be useful for something.

I pause to note that my stash contains a 200g ball of white cotton yarn that would have given me ample wiggle room; but it’s the wrong thickness and noticeably different.

May all your existing yarn be precisely adequate for your needs 😀

 

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bewilderingly different

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How amazing! It looks just like the picture. Oh, wait. It should. Right? I’ve now finished that dangling row and the fourth is almost at that stage.

Via one of those circuitous routes for which www is (in)famous, I’ve spent a few hours listening to some wondrous renditions of folk music. It wasn’t traditional in the sense of being hundreds of years old with more versions than you’ve had hot dinners, but it dated from the 1970s, so that’s probably traditional enough for most of us, and with enough versions to invite good comparative analysis (which, you’ll be relieved to hear, I won’t be entering into).

I started out with the latest post from one of my favourite knitting blogs, among whose comments was a mention of some lyrics from When Yellow’s on the Broom. That caught my attention because it wasn’t a song I knew. Off I scurried to look it up on YouTube. As you do. Right? I clicked the first I found, and I was hooked. It intrigued me enough that I chose to listen to several other versions and seek the lyrics (which you can find here or here – that one is an odd location but has chords if you’re at all tempted – or in a slightly more readable and informative version here).

Because I was otherwise occupied, I let autoplay take over. Via the Fields of Athenry – again, there are many recorded versions – and a few other unexpected delights, I ended up listening to a version of Eric Bogle‘s And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. There are many recordings of Eric singing it, too, but I like this one where Eric is older and has unapologetically changed – without oversimplifying – the melodic line to accommodate his older voice.

The version that autoplay happened upon was totally bewildering. I think it’s fair to say we’d all have our own favourite singers and styles. Many would argue that anyone can sing, and anyone can sing anything they want to, if they can. Yeah, I know. I spent many years as a community musician, so I genuinely appreciate the value of encouraging everyone to join in.

To hear what is essentially a folksong sung by an operatic baritone was… unsettling. It wasn’t bad or unintelligent, and he does have a lovely, smooth voice. He has a couple of lazy habits that made me want to smack him – oh, all right, maybe just pull him up sharply in rehearsals and tell him to be more careful. I discussed it with Dr B, because I was struggling with the level of my own discomfiture. The singer’s mix of operatic technique and careful pronunciation with occasional deliberately careless pronunciation or mispronunciation and a few spots where he couldn’t quite make up his mind how many syllables he was going to use (but wasn’t consistent about that), plus the oversimplification of the melodic line (which might have been the arranger’s doing; I’m not necessarily blaming him for that)… the doc and I agreed it didn’t work. Sorry, Nathan. I think it would be a treat to listen to your operatic offerings but, yeah, nah. Leave the folksongs alone, mate.

Someone is going to point out, I dare say, that he’s probably ahead of his time: the day will come when that folksong is only ever heard in quasi-sacred settings in concert halls, and accompanied by an orchestra. After all, someone will say, Gaudeamus igitur began life as a student drinking song. It’s now a fairly serious anthem that gets dragged out for graduations and demands respect. Uuh, yeah. Yeah, I know. I do. I know.

Although I didn’t intend my comment about being hooked as a pun, it’s appropriate because I was, in fact, hooking all the while. I’m now almost halfway through joining the rainbow squares, after weeks of being unable to do much at all (for various reasons, not all Covid-related). I found a method of JAYG that I liked better than the one I originally looked at, which would be quick but leave gaps I’d prefer to avoid. It took me a while to find something else that I thought I would be able to do. I looked at this one, and liked it but decided that I would struggle to make it work with my squares. Someone more experienced could doubtless work it out; but there are days I sadly remind myself I’m first and foremost a knitter!

I dismissed this for similar reasons, and because I didn’t like the end result quite as much. I finally decided that I could make this method work, despite it being also intended for solid squares. Coming from underneath was the trick that sold me on it: you get a nice finish on both top and bottom. Oh, yes, you’re quite right, I could have simply used a (UK) double crochet seam, but that would have given me a ridge. I’m not in the camp that likes ridges. I prefer the join to be a smooth as possible.

My concern now, however, is whether I actually have enough white yarn to finish the job! Bewilderingly, I appear to be running out 😀

 

 

 
 

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