Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hot Cocoa Blues

Actually, I'm not blue.  I worked it out.  But here's a story for all you collectors of UFOs, you wild and woolly wool-stashers and sufferers of start-itis.

The pattern is Hot Cocoa, designed by Jordana Paige, appearing in the More Big Girl Knits book, and it is a great-looking, class act sweater.  In the pictures in the book, anyway.

However, let's say that along about, oh, maybe January 2011, you grab the gorgeous Ballad Blue Rowan Cashsoft DK that you stashed in, let's say, March 2010, and you knit 27 rows of this sweater, which has 3 different stitch patterns per row, with a 6-row repeat, with decreases on every 5th row that affects where you start with the first stitch pattern on all right side rows, with an extra stockinette stitch on either end of every row.

Let's say you dutifully keep track of exactly where you are in the pattern using highlighter tape and the best knitting row counter in the world (which, alas, they no longer manufacture).

Then let's say you put the project away as a UFO for TWO YEARS.

It sits there in one of your project bags for TWO YEARS, carefully covered with a clear plastic bag to keep out the dust and spiders, and every month or two it whispers, "Remember me?" and you ignore it.  And the longer you wait, the longer you think it's too complicated to deal with because you are overwhelmed with, say, moving, and the more complicated you imagine it is, the more afraid you become.

And then there's that glorious moment where you realize, "That pattern ain't the boss of me!  I am the Yarnmaster!  I ain't afraid o' no patterns!  I have a degree in Russian Language, for heaven's sake!  I can figure out any pattern that comes down the pike!  And besides, I'm all unpacked.  My brain functioning is returning to something resembling normal.  Whatever's normal for me, anyway."

So you pick it up again and dutifully read the directions, even taking your time, studying and pondering, and you say, "Aha!  I've got it!" and you gleefully start knitting and then you realize you forgot to start at a different point in the first stitch pattern because of the decreases, so you frog a few rows, no biggie, and start again, remembering to count backwards from the first stitch marker so you know how many stitches you have and therefore, where to start in the pattern, and you knit a dozen or so rows, and then you realize you're supposed to decrease on row 5 of the pattern instead of row 1.  So you take a deep breath and... well, let me put it this way:

I have decided that yarn is squishy, stretching and forgiving, and the fact that one time, I decreased 2 rows later than the pattern instructs will be FINE.  It might even be BETTER.  Will I do the same thing when I do the front panels?  I doubt it.  I will finesse it.  I will fix it.  I will make it work.

Despite my procrastination and minor frogging, this is a super fun sweater pattern, and assuming I am making the right size, which is debatable because it's likely this size will be too small and the next size up would have been too big, it will be FINE because I can always add a side panel between the back and the front.  I've done that before.  I am a Sidepanelmaster as well.

So, just a friendly word, speaking from recent experience, about setting aside those UFOs for too long: yes, it takes time to pick up where you left off.  Mistakes may happen.

But do not be afraid.  Do not be very afraid.  Just pick it up and start again; it will come back to you.  And never frog unless absolutely necessary!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Pattern: Granny Cap Granny Square

Presenting the Granny Cap Granny Square, now starring in the new Granny Paints the Town blanket.

The pattern is now available in my Etsy shop!

This square evolved when I was doing squares for the yarn bombing in L.A.  I wanted to do something a little different from a basic granny.

I first did a couple of them in white, and they looked like those old-fashioned, ruffled granny caps.

The yarn bombers wanted certain colors for their project, white included, but once I was done making squares for them,  I branched out, color-wise.

I had a ton of Tahki Cotton Classic in dozens of colors left over from other projects, most notably Debby Ware's wonderful Cupcake Hat.

I've knitted many of those; they are great baby shower gifts, and for charities, I imagine they brighten the day for someone going through a tough time.

Pictured here are just a few of the many I've made.  They are really fun!

So, anyway, LOTS of Tahki Cotton Classic lying around, waiting for the right project.

I planned to join the Granny Cap Squares into a blanket, though the cotton makes them a bit heavy for any but the smallest blanket.  I toyed with a scarf idea, but it just wouldn't have been as gloriously cheerful, and besides, making these squares gets kind of addictive.

I just kept going.

I had so many great colors!  I was tossing them together like mad, making no two squares alike.

Even the bears started tossing squares around.

And of course, I started running out of yellow, and I needed yellow to keep things light and cheerful.  Then to join them all together, I needed 5 skeins of black.

So I went shopping.

To give the blanket a truly finished look, I did a black border for each square.

Then began joining, crocheting a lacy border, and our favorite, the weaving in of many yarn tails.

I do the weaving in as I go along, but there were so many!

Now it's done and ready for the bears:

If you like this pattern, you might also like the River's Edge Ripple crochet blanket or the Dancing Diamonds crochet blanket.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Yarn Parade!

Come one, come all to the yarn parade!  Friend Elisa was cleaning out her stash, and I am one of the beneficiaries.

Behold, two bags overflowing with yarn, already taken to the local Project Linus chapter.  Sometimes, I am just a conduit for fiber to travel from one location to another.

Here's the yarn I snagged for myself--I really held back, due to storage issues, not to mention, time, as in, I have more yarn than I can knit in a lifetime.

And then there's the yarn I chose not to keep.  There's a lot of high quality stuff here, but I know I will never use it.

It's all bagged up and ready to go to its new home(s) wherever that may be.

But just so you know I didn't hold back completely, I also kept a great big bag of spinnable fiber in an array of neutral colors.

Thank you, Elisa!

Now, where in the world am I going to store that?!  I need more bins!