Hooked

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I just received these lovely crochet hooks in the mail from Matt of According to Matt…, one of my favorite crochet and knitting blogs! Aren’t they lovely? They’re a European brand called KnitPro, which can be ordered from this UK-based store, among other places. He ran a contest a few weeks ago asking people to guess how many buttons were in a jar, and I happened to hit on the right number first. The story of how that happened is super dumb: I planned to enter my street address #471, as my guess, but I misremembered it as 417, and a commenter a few before me had already guessed that, so I guessed 419 instead and that turned out to be correct. Hooray, faulty brain wires! I highly recommend Matt’s blog; his projects are always super colorful and inspiring, and he’s always got a sunny attitude that makes his posts a pleasure to read. As you probably know, I’m much more of a knitter than a crocheter, but this is a wonderful excuse to spend some more time crocheting — previously I just had a bunch of cheapo metal and plastic hooks from Michael’s. I think what I’d really like to make is a super-stashbusting freeform crochet tote bag.

I am almost done re-knitting my Acer cardigan — check it out:

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I am now officially farther along with it than I got the first time, when I finished the body and one sleeve before deciding it was hopelessly too large. As you can see, I’m knitting the sleeves top-down this time, because the sleeves in the pattern came out weirdly large for me. Knitting them top-down allows me to try it on as I go and make them fit better. I’m super proud of myself for figuring out how to do this on my own, based on my notes from my Leitmotif Cardigan, which was written with top-down sleeves that I modified a bit to fit my short arms. I now feel confident that I can do top-down sleeves on any sweater I choose, which is pretty awesome! I should be done with this sleeve pretty soon, and then it’s just button bands, collar, and finishing!

I even bought some buttons today:

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I usually end up buying two sets of buttons for my sweaters, because I’m rarely 100% sure in the store what is going to look best on the sweater, even though I make sure to bring a sample of the yarn in with me. In this case, I’m glad I did — I very nearly came home with just the top set of buttons, but the bottom ones are now the clear winners in my mind. I do like the rustic simplicity of those top buttons, though, and I think I’ll probably keep them for the future rather than return them. This sweater should be done pretty soon — so keep your fingers crossed for me that we don’t start getting hit with the 80-degree southern California spring days just yet!

Eight Coasters Coasting

I finished up my mom’s Christmas coasters just in time — I soaked and ironed them on the 23rd, and they were dry and ready to go for our Christmas Eve dinner. They were requested by my mother over the summer, when I was working on my summer coaster project while I was visiting her. She wanted green and gold, to match our Christmas napkins and napkin holders, seen here:

In retrospect, this picture might have looked better if I’d put plates out! But you can see Max’s little furry head poking into frame in the upper left corner, so that makes up for it. I set the table and took this picture hours before dinner, because I wanted to take it while there was still some sun out.

The yarn is Takhi Cotton Classic, and the pattern is “Traditional Hexagon II” from Crochet Stitch Motifs by Erika Knight, a pattern my mom admired for its simplicity. I was able to memorize it in pretty short order, so making these was a breeze!

I’ll leave you with a gratuitous shot of Max that I took while we were out walking a few days ago. Happy holidays, everyone!

Sax Fiend

Meet the Sax Fiend. Pat bugged me for months to make a small monster to function as a sax mute, since our band is somewhat prone to generating noise complaints, and finally a few weeks ago I did. He is crocheted out of some random bulky-weight acrylic from my stash (probably Lion Brand?) that I chose mostly because it was thick so I could bang this guy out quickly. I didn’t follow a pattern; I just made sure his bulbous bottom was the right size to fit in the bell of the sax and otherwise made him up as I went along. The body is crocheted (since I find it’s much easier to freehand three-dimensional shapes in crochet), but the arms are I-cord, knitted at a fairly tight gauge so they would stick out rather than flop down. For the flippers/hands I just knit the I-cord back-and-forth for a a few rows, increasing a bit at the bottom and decreasing at the top. The mouth and fangs came out pretty well, given how badly I suck at embroidery. The thing about embroidery is that it’s basically sewing (which I’m bad at) plus drawing (which I’m really bad at).  So I try not to do it very often.

The eyes are from my, uh, stash of eyes. I seriously have a bag of about 60 pairs of stuffed animal eyes in various colors and sizes in my craft bureau. Hey, you never know.

Otherwise, I’ve been sort of wildly promiscuous with my knitting; I’ve been picking up and putting down projects as it pleases me and therefore have been making slow progress on all of them. But I’ve finished one sleeve of my Lady Gray shrug, as you can see here. I love the way this yarn (Alchemy Juniper) & pattern go together; in the main body of the shrug the colors are all mixed up, but I also like how they look here in the cuff where they’re a little more predictably stripey. I had a little bit of trouble conceptualizing how the cuff was supposed to be picked up and knitted, and the designer was quick to respond to my query and very helpful!

My Aestlight shawl stalled out two weeks ago when I decided that knitting the edging was annoying. I had to turn the work every 10 stitches or so, and the pattern was a little too complicated to memorize, so I had to look down every 15 seconds or so — which made it pretty bad TV knitting. But a few days ago I sucked it up and started working on this again, and I should finish it up tonight. So in a few days it should be blocked and ready to show you! (And FYI Gudrun is having a 20% off sale until October 17th, so this is a good time to grab this pattern if you’d been thinking about it!)

Here’s something you haven’t seen before — this is the Citron shawlette from Knitty that everybody and their mother was knitting this past winter. The yarn is Hedgehog Fibres Silk/Merino Lace in the “Pilgrim” colorway. I thought about making something fancier with this yarn, but the fact that I had 700 yards of it was a little awkward — too little for a wrap, too much for a scarf, and I really wasn’t in the mood for another triangular shawl. But then I saw that some Ravelers had done the math recently for expanding the Citron larger than the original pattern, and I realized that 700 yards would be just about perfect for a slightly larger & therefore more versatile version of the original pattern. (These charts are on the Ravelry page for the design, if you’re curious.)

So that’s three in-progress projects, and I of course also have my Buncha Squares blanket lurking in the background. Just yesterday I started another small project that I’ll show you when it’s a little farther along, and I have plans to start a large wrap project, and I’m thinking about doing the Through The Loops mystery sock for “Socktober.” And on top of all that, I’m itching to knit another sweater now that fall is approaching. It’s almost as though my knitting is conspiring to distract me from something… like, oh, say, my dissertation?

The Coaster Project: The Final Chapter

I am now back in California and the coaster project has come to an end. Here’s the whole family! I knocked out the last coaster, on the upper right, in the morning before my flight. Here’s a close-up:

Pattern: Crochet Stitch Motifs by Erika Knight, “Traditional Hexagon II,” p. 79.

Yarn: Takhi Cotton Classic

Hook: 3.25 mm

This one was super easy — it’s basically just a modified granny square with a border — but I managed to mess it up in round 3 by failing to read the directions, and I ended up with an octagon that wouldn’t sit flat. But I realized my mistake in time to rip back and finish this up before I had to leave for the airport. Despite (or because of) its simplicity, this one was my mother’s favorite & she’s commissioned a set of them in green and gold for Christmas, so you’ll see more of these eventually.

All in all, this project was a rousing success. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get any academic work done when I was visiting my mom, since she needs so much help with simple things around the house while she’s recovering from her surgery, so making these gave me something to do while hanging out with her that could be easily picked up and put down when necessary. And now I have a lovely, brightly-colored set of coasters that matches my brightly-colored living room decor!

I’ve been doing some knitting behind the scenes, but some of it will have to remain secret for another few weeks. I do have a few things I can show you, though, so in a few days I’ll update you about what’s been going on needle-wise!

Coaster #9: Amanda Whorl

Pattern: Crochet Stitch Motifs by Erika Knight, “Amanda Whorl,” p. 123

Yarn: Takhi Cotton Classic

Hook: 3.25 mm

This one came out pretty big for a coaster, so I guess I have another doily/trivet. I suspected that it would be too big from the beginning, but I couldn’t not make it because the construction was so interesting & different from all my other coasters. I love how this came out, but it was actually kind of tedious to make since each wedge was exactly the same. On most of these coasters, each round has been different enough to keep my interest.

My vacation ends tomorrow, but I’m going to try to cram in one last fairly simple coaster, so I can end up with a set of eight plus two doily/trivet things. No bonus picture today, because I’ve gotta run if I’m going to get this (and my last-night-in-town carousing) done by tomorrow!

Coaster #8: Viola

Pattern: Crochet Stitch Motifs by Erika Knight, “Viola,” p. 56.

Yarn: Takhi Cotton Classic

Hook: 3.25 mm

This one was super fun. I’d say it’s been the funnest so far. The spike stitches are easy and cool-looking, and the pattern is ultimately very intuitive. Plus it came out pretty perfectly coaster-sized, which is more than I can say for some of these other misfits. It’s actually made by crocheting a normal flat single-crochet circle for four rounds, and then you start the fancy stuff.

I apologize, but I don’t have a bonus picture for you today. I spent all day yesterday at the Further show (Bob Weir & Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead) at Coney Island, and while there were a jillion crazy things that one might have taken a picture of, (a) I didn’t have my camera and (b) most people wouldn’t appreciate having their picture taken in the state most of those folks were in. So you’ll just have to use your imaginations. 🙂

Coaster #7: Ridged Hexagon II

Pattern: Crochet Stitch Motifs by Erika Knight, “Ridged Hexagon II,” p. 140

Yarn: Takhi Cotton Classic

Hook: 3.25 mm

This one was minorly confusing, in that what the pattern calls “Dc/rb” (double crochet around the back of the post) is in fact what I know as double crocheting around the front of the post. Also, I’m not convinced that that’s what they even did in the sample, because the sample looks significantly different from my finished product. But I don’t care, because the finished product looks cool and is probably one of the most coastery coasters I’ve crocheted so far, in terms of appropriate size and lack of holes.

Yesterday I was in the West Village for the beginning of NYC Pride Weekend, on a rooftop across the street from the Stonewall Inn where there were periodic dance parties blocking traffic in the street — but tragically, I’d left my camera at home. So your bonus picture today is just the back of this coaster, but it looks pretty viable and my mom actually prefers it to the front of the coaster. And it’s kinda pride-appropriate: