Tag Archive | afghan stitch

Another picture afghan

Earlier this year, I mentioned having a couple of “commission” projects that I needed to get done before I could truly start on any of my own things. The first was making a Roman shade for a friend out of some sunflower fabric she had been hanging onto for years. It was my first go at making a window dressing more complicated than a rod pocket or tab-top curtain. I spent a lot of time reading tutorials and pondering the logistics of it. So that was January. When I finished up the shade (which I did not photograph, sorry), I immediately began working on an afghan for a friend whose canine companion of 14 years had just died right around Christmas. This wasn’t so much a commission as an idea for which I managed to convince some other friends to help fund me (not that they took much convincing — we were all heartbroken for our sweet friend, S, and wanted to do something to help lift her spirits). I presented my idea to them and the photograph I would use to make the afghan — a picture of S’s dog wearing a birthday party hat that she had posted on Facebook a few years ago. What a fun way to remember her little dog! I worked on this afghan everyday and felt like I couldn’t (shouldn’t) work on anything personal until it was done because I had a whole bunch of people counting on me, plus, I just wanted to get it to S as soon as possible.

I used a J Tunisian/afghan hook and Caron Simply Soft yarn; I like it for the sheen and the softness. Here are some “work in progress” pictures with the grand finale at the end.

A little weird and abstract at the beginning

A little weird and abstract at the beginning

Now it looks like a dog! 2/3 of the way done.

Now it looks like a dog! 2/3 of the way done with the picture.

All done and with a border on it!

All done and with a border on it!

I finished it late one night at the beginning of April and mailed it off the very next day. One of the other ladies contacted S’s husband to let him know that “a package” was coming and when it was to arrive so that he could grab it off the porch before S got home from work. He had agreed to video her opening it and then, with her permission, post it for all of us to see since we’re scattered all over the country. S had no idea that we had been doing any of this, so it was all a huge surprise. She was speechless! But she and her family loved the blanket and that totally made my day. I’m so glad I was able to make something so special for her.

Since then, I’ve been working like a maniac in the garden. Or rather, I made gardens out of overgrown patches of land along our driveway and cleared out another overgrown flower bed. I’ve just about got everything planted and I’m really feeling the itch to sew again, so there should be more consistency (I say. ha ha ha) coming up!

Boy sweater

That’s a boring title, isn’t it? But there won’t be any confusion as to what I’m writing about today. Boy sweater. A sweater for the boy. A yarny garment for a male child.

If you sew/crochet/knit, you probably already know that there are a dearth of patterns out there for the little boys in the world. And, considering that around 51% of the world’s population is male, you’d think there’d be more of a demand for this type of thing. Well, I should rephrase — there is demand, but the supply is seriously lacking. So, when I saw that there were THREE boy sweater patterns in the Winter 2014 (that would be this past January) issue of Interweave Crochet, I jumped all over that. And these weren’t embarrassing granny square 70s throwback sweaters; these looked like sweaters that boys of today would actually wear and {gasp} enjoy wearing.

I chose the “Jonas” sweater and Konik and I took a trip to the yarn store. Not a craft store — an honest-to-goodness yarn store. I often can’t afford all the fancy yarns, but I wanted this to be a nice, durable sweater for my boy. The original pattern was worked with Brown Sheep Company Cotton Fleece, which the yarn store carried, but I didn’t like any of the colors. Instead, we went with Cascade Yarns Cascade 220 Heathers; it’s a 100% Peruvian Wool. That should keep him warm! I let Konik choose the colors and he ended up choosing two that were quite similar to the picture in the magazine — a rusty brown and gray-blue.

This pattern was worked in Tunisian crochet. The last time I tried to make a garment for one of my children in Tunisian, I was a novice at it and very            very            slow. Working the Axl afghan changed all that and now I can go almost as fast as I can in regular crochet. I started right away and whipped out the front and back of the sweater in a week or so. And then I made the fatal mistake: I put it away. I can’t remember why now. But I did. And the little sweater languished in my yarn drum for months and months until I finally picked it up again earlier this month to do the sleeves. Aside from a little counting issue I had, the sleeves worked up just as quickly as the body of the sweater and sewing it together was no sweat (see what I did there?). Hurray! The boy sweater was finished! Well, apart from inserting the zipper in the collar, but I didn’t want to wait on that to try it on Konik.

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Still awaiting the zipper.

Still awaiting the zipper.

Close-up of the stitches. Ribbing along the bottom edge, cuffs, and collar of the sweater.

Close-up of the stitches. Ribbing along the bottom edge, cuffs, and collar of the sweater.

Konik was just as excited; he had been looking forward to this sweater for a long time. I helped him put it on and… he looked like a little wool-encased sausage. And the sleeves were at that awkward length in between “long” and “3/4.” Yeah, I should have expected it: in ten months, my son grew. It made me claustrophobic just looking at him and the poor kid couldn’t even get out of it by himself. We extracted him from the sweater and sadly admitted that it was going to have to be put away for a couple years until Sprinkaan grows into it. Hopefully I won’t miss that window! It looks like Konik and I are going to have to make another trip to the yarn store and this time, I’ll make it a size bigger. Maybe two.

This ain’t no velvet Elvis

Several weeks ago, I was perusing Craftster to kill some time. I hadn’t been on in awhile and decided to check out what was happening over there. I was hanging out on the crochet boards when this caught my eye. Seriously, click it. It was so cool! I had no idea such fabulous things could be done with crochet. I didn’t have any projects going on at the time, so I knew I had to make a portrait afghan. HAD to. As in, it was all I could think about for days. The girl who made the Audrey afghan gave a link to knitPro which automatically graphs any picture you give it. It’s great and such a time saver! I was getting ready to graph my own picture when I saw that link. Now, not every photo turns out looking great once it has been pixelated, so I ran through a few trial photos before I settled on the one I wanted to use. I did consider doing a black & white (or pink or background color of my choice) outline picture, but then I saw another girl on Craftster who has made several portrait afghans and she used colors and shading. Even more awesome! All of these are done in Tunisian crochet or afghan stitch with an afghan crochet hook. Up to this point, my combined Tunisian crochet experience was the failed first (several) attempts at Granota’s Cuddle Muffin dress and most of a dish towel (still need to finish that one). I was a relative newbie to the art. So why shouldn’t I choose something as difficult as possible to really get initiated? Makes perfect sense to me.

Obviously, subject matter is kind of important for a project like this. Audrey Hepburn is cool and all, but I don’t really consider myself a fan. Her presence in my house just wouldn’t make any kind of sense. So I considered other options. For all of about 10 seconds. Really, was there any question who I would do?

Well, hello there, you red-haired firecracker!

That’s right, folks, it’s Axl Rose at Rock in Rio II —  the first time he wore those American flag shorts. Aren’t you feeling patriotic already? I know I am.

Right now, Axl is more the size of a bath towel than an afghan; it was a particularly long and narrow picture. I am adding bands of black on either side to widen it a bit and then I will put a wide border all the way around it. But I just couldn’t wait to show you the portrait part because I’m just so dang proud of it.

A little size comparison. Granota and her hero.

I started from the bottom and worked my way up figuring I’d get my feet wet with fewer color changes at first. I did about two rows before I realized that something wasn’t working. The work was gapping in between colors. There had to be a way to keep the separate colors connected to each other, but I wasn’t sure how and my Tunisian book insisted that color changes had to be done at the end of a row. Pfft. Shows what they know. So I turned to the almighty Web and found this nice lady’s site where she quite helpfully explains how to change colors mid-row and eliminate gaps. Once I started over and used her method and other helpful tips, working this up was really a breeze. That’s the great thing about this — it looks uber complicated, but if you can do a simple afghan stitch and count little squares, you can do this!

Chart in progress, marking little X’s across as I completed a row

The hardest part about the whole process is the mess of working yarn you get on the back side. It’s like something out of a Sci-Fi movie.

Box o’ yarn attached to the back of the afghan

There were times when I could have up to 11 balls of yarn going at one time because of all the frequent color changes. For the most part, I tried to avoid cutting off the yarn until I absolutely had to. But once I was finished with a color, I had to cut it and leave a four inch tail to weave in later. I’m still working on that part.

Axl’s hairy back

Ok, Axl’s body is as smooth as a baby’s, but we’ve got some serious work to do on his yarn counterpart. And by “we,” I mean “I” because no one else will help me do this. Weave in ends. Hundreds of ends. Little yarn tail ends. {sniff} Right now I’ve got his shorts done, so that’s, what… maybe a 1/4? ha Yeah, I’ll be doing this for awhile. Once I finish weaving in all the ends, I’ve got to block this out and then I will add the border around it. I’ll show you again when it’s all finished, but I won’t have to talk about it as much because you already know all about it now!

A little close-up action

Uh, yeah, excuse the diaper box in the above photo. One thing about Tunisian crochet is that, until it’s blocked, it wants to curl up like a scroll. So the diaper box is there to hold ol’ Axl down for his photo shoot.

Happy 4th of July, everybody!