Tag Archives: Yarn

Mixed-Stitch Madness

Hi, my name is Katie. I’m a yarn addict, and I’m constantly hooking to feed my habit.

P1020310.jpgBut in all realness… when I look back on the sheer volume of what I’ve crocheted in the past four months, I’m stunned. I’ve completed a total of 3 afghans so far, with a fourth one 3/4 of the way done. And that’s having taken a break to make the oh-so tedious dragon for my Halloween costume. That’s a LOT of crocheting. If I had to make a guess, I’d say that’s at least 40 skeins of yarn (you’re welcome, Hobby Lobby). People always ask me how much time I spent on each piece, and that’s really hard to say. The first blanket took me at least two seasons of House of Cards, plus other miscellaneous time when I picked it up at work or while watching something else. I don’t know! It does make me curious though; maybe next time I start a project I’ll punch in on a timer and see.

Like so many awesome, crafty ideas, mixed-stitch crochet found me by way of Pinterest. A long time ago I stumbled across pictures of the colorful, seemingly random, chaotic patterns that somehow looked so neatly designed. I took a stab at it on my own and failed miserably- the edges were beyond warped, and I put it aside for a while.

I picked it up again a few months ago, this time sitting down with the amazing instructions I found here. Having never mixed random stitches before, I didn’t realize that different ones required different hook sizes to make the edges straight. It took trial and error– and a whole lot of frustration with counting to 24 eight times plus 1– but I finally got it.

12105882_10100165885880739_4457990446597664563_nThe first blanket I made was for Micah, the little girl I nanny. She actually went to Hobby Lobby with me and (with some guidance) helped to choose the colors. When she saw me working on it she would ask, “is it almost done?” which I jumped on as an opportunity to teach her what “patience” meant. I decided it looked best without a border, since the edges were a little off.

To correct for the zigzagging edges on Micah’s blanket, I started using stitch markers to make the counting process a little more diligent and learn how to work each row of stitches onto any other. Once I got it down, the edges were as straight as any could be. The second blanket got a black border on all four sides, which I thought would really tie its color scheme together. I gave it to Jewel 🙂

2015-09-23 21.18.07.jpgThe next two blankets are for me and my dad; I put mine aside to try and finish his in between his birthday and Christmas. I got it done the day after Thanksgiving, so I succeeded! It is extra big, based in greens and purples, and it has a border on the two long sides. He loves it so much he doesn’t want to use it, and freaked out when my dog was sitting on it. Little does he know, Duchess was using that ol’ rag as a bed from the moment it was big enough. But I washed it (even though that freaked him out too) and the blanket is as good as new– and as good as it always will be. It might be the most perfect thing I’ve made yet.

But wait until I’m done with mine!

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About that Crochet Project…

IMG_20131118_230634About that crochet project— you know, the one I started about a month ago? My goal was to stitch together an afghan for the winter. And so I dove headfirst into doing just that. But as it turns out, afghans are no easy feat. Big, knit blankets are among those things in life that can be simple enough when you first begin, but the idea of completion seems increasingly impossible as time goes on. After whipping up a seemingly endless amount of squares– only to then realize how many squares I still had yet to make– it dawned on me: I was climbing crochet mountain. Making this afghan was a long and uphill battle, but there’s nothing like the view from the top. It took a lot of time and work, but I couldn’t be more proud of the blanket that I made.

Here are some pictures of Duchess, who has already claimed the blanket for herself. Even when I’m still working on something, she’ll take any opportunity to curl up in softness that she can. And how could I complain? Look at that faaaace.

I’ve been crocheting for as long as I can remember, and then some– I don’t even remember when I learned to use a hook. Every couple years I get the yarn bug and pick it up again, each time learning new skills and improving my technique. This was my first time making granny squares, and my first time joining separate pieces together (and yeah, there was a lot of yanking out the previous row to fix mistakes.)

IMG_20131102_205423But the most important lesson I learned this time around is this: do not mix yarns. They may be identical in color, and appear similarly thick to the naked eye– but they aren’t. Stick to one brand of yarn, especially when making multiple pieces for a blanket. I learned this the hard way, and even though the two yarns appeared to be identical, the slight difference in their gauges made the squares way larger than the other ones, and thus out of place in the afghan. I had to remake roughly 16 of the 89 squares AFTER I had already completed them, because the size discrepancy was too large for the perfectionist in me to let slide.

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If you want to make an afghan of your own, I highly recommend the book 200 Crochet Blocks. Unlike most crochet books, where you might only find a few patterns that appeal to you, every page of this book is a winner. I have come back to it again and again. Its all square block patterns, and lots of them too. But its also the book that taught me how to crochet in the round, make flowers and designs, and think “outside the box” when it comes to stitching design. There is also a great guide to designing the layout of squares in your blanket, as well as fringe patterns and a basic stitch reference in the back.

I’ve finally started a crochet project!

I’ve been itching to pick up crochet again for a while. It’s something I’ve done since I was so young I never remember learning. But every few years I go into a manic-yarn phase and teach myself new stitches and techniques. It’s something I find calming; I can do it while I’m listening to music or watching TV. It keeps my hands busy, almost like a nervous twitch. Only when it’s all said and done I have something to show for it. In other words, its a productive waste of time.

IMG_20131002_204407Sometimes its hard for me to choose a project. There are so many patterns out there for things I’d like to make, but sometimes I’m not in the mood to follow a tedious new pattern. That’s why I recently decided to start making squares for an afghan. I know the pattern for each square well enough that it takes hardly any focus. I can makes squares whenever I’m in the mood, and if I find another project to do I can just put the squares aside for a bit and pick them back up later. Once I have enough, I can stitch them all together and be super proud of myself. I’m not sure yet how big I want to make it, but I’m thinking I’ll need at least 81 or 100 squares. I’m also not sure yet how I’m going to stitch them together, or what border to stitch around the edge. This is why I’m making a handful of tiny squares so I can make a “practice” blanket first. I can’t wait to see the end result. Patience is a virtue… is what I keep reminding myself!