Tag Archive | afghan

Day 17: I made

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I made an afghan! Last spring, Rana pointed out that, with the exception of the quilt on her bed and one sort of scratchy blanket, she only has baby blankets. Kind of hard to stay warm under a pile of tiny blankets. She asked me to make her an afghan that would cover her whole bed. I went through my pattern books and marked a few that I would be willing to make. I had just come off the dog afghan and I needed something a little bit simpler and faster after the intensity of that project. Rana chose this afghan which is featured on the cover of my “Wishes and Wonders” crochet book.

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The pattern is simply named “Hearts and Flowers,” by Katherine Eng. Rana said that she liked the colors in the photo. As you can see, however, that’s not how it turned out. When I was buying yarn, I remembered it as more green rather than teal. Rana was gracious and told me that she liked it anyways.

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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!

Putting the plan into place

Happy New Year! We’ve been in the new house for two months now, baby Sprinkaan is 6 weeks old, we made it through the holidays and life is beginning to settle into a more predictable routine, which means I can — fingers crossed — get back on here on a more regular basis. Earlier last week, I began going through my sewing room in an attempt to bring some order to the chaos. I’ve still got more work to do to get it organized to where I can find things easily, but in that process, I made a shocking discovery. Shocking, I tell you! Ok, maybe only to me.

A room of my very own!

A room of my very own!

Whilst cleaning, I came across several UFOs. That’s right, the dreaded UnFinished Object. I’m not surprised that these UFOs exist (I am a procrastinator, after all), just that there are so many of them. I found things I had completely forgotten about. So, in the interest of accountability, I’m posting them all here. Well, I say all; there may yet be undiscovered specimens.

Here's the story of a lovely lady who can't seem to finish what she starts

Here’s the story of a lovely lady who can’t seem to finish what she starts

From the top, going left to right:

  1. Rag rug. I even posted about this back when I started it and then promptly got bored of it and stashed it away. It’s wound into an oval purely for visual purposes because it’s much easier to see it as a rug this way than as the mile-long fabric braid that it actually is. The braiding is complete, as far as I’m concerned, now it’s just the awful task of hand-sewing all that mess together.
  2. Crochet gingerbread house. It doesn’t look like much, but all the actual house pieces are there: roof, front, back, and sides. I just need to finish all the candy features and assemble the thing.
  3. Beige peasant blouse. I started this last spring with the intention of it being a sort of transitional maternity top. That was effective. Again, all the pieces are there, I just need to finish the embroidery on the yoke and sew it up.
  4. Rainbow granny afghan. This is probably the biggest undertaking out of all these projects. I hate weaving in ends and granny squares produce a lot of ends to weave. Multi-colored granny squares make me question my sanity for deciding to embark on this in the first place.
  5. Front of a sweater. This sweater has a name — it’s from my knitting board book, but I can’t find the book yet and I don’t remember the name. At any rate, the front of a sweater doesn’t do me a lot of good without the back and sleeves.
  6. Axl doll. Another naked Axl. I started out all gung-ho on this after I finished the dolls for the girls, but then was struck with ennui when it came to sewing more tiny clothes. The thing is, I did all the hard work the first time and made little patterns so that any subsequent dolls wouldn’t be such a pain, but, eh.
  7. Knitting loom sock. Remember when I made Konik the little striped socks that he loved and wouldn’t take off for three days? Immediately after that, I began making a sock for myself. And then more interesting things came along… I actually haven’t gotten very far on this one at all and, to tell the truth, can’t remember which pattern I was using. I may end up taking it off and doing something else. We’ll see.
  8. Bunny dress. Rana and I had started a little sewing project together to make her favorite stuffed bunny a pretty little dress. We were on a roll and then we missed a few days and a few days turned into a few months.
  9. Embroidered baby booties. You want to know how shameful my UFOs are? I began these booties when I was pregnant with Konik. He’s 4. I need to get a move on if any of my own children are going to actually wear these. Sprinkaan, you are our last hope.

So here’s my New Year’s Resolution of sorts: for the next year, I will choose one of these projects each month and bust it out. Originally I was just going to randomly pull one from a jar, but obviously, some of these have a little more urgency than others, like the booties for example. That one will have to be the first… just as soon as I finish the little sweater I’m knitting for Sprinkaan. Maybe after that I’ll go with the jar idea. For some reason, it feels more likely that I’ll actually do these if I feel like it’s a surprise and not an assignment. I will (again, fingers crossed) be making other things during the next nine months. These items are, with the exception of the doll clothes, my “armchair crafts” — the things that I can work on in the evenings after I’ve put the kids to bed and just want to sit quietly. Even with the new baby, I’ll make time for daytime projects. So, when I begin one of these UFOs, I’ll post about it and you all can pester me hold me accountable throughout that month to make sure I finish it! Deal? Deal.

Off the hook!

Ever since I completed my Axl Rose afghan (or, well before I finished it, actually), the girls have been reminding me that they want one of their own. I thought that would be a good “big” Christmas present for them. We give them only three gifts (we like to keep things simple and not get too hung up on the “stuff”), one of which is something big and special, left unwrapped under the tree with a giant nametag on it. They love to run downstairs and see what it is. So, in a perfect world, the afghans would have made great “big” presents. Now that my French tutoring has started up again, I’ve come back into crafting funds (hurray!), but I’m realizing that it was too late for afghans.

Oh sure, I was optimistic and bought a little yarn (not all of it, thank goodness) and began Rana’s blanket. At that point in time, I calculated that if I finished five rows everyday, I could have it done in three weeks, leaving enough time to weave in ends and four more weeks to do the whole thing over again for Granota’s.

But then I missed a couple of days. Five rows had to be bumped to seven. And then nudged up to ten. And eleven. At which point I admitted to myself that this wasn’t going to happen. I was attempting to get my crocheting done in secret which meant only during naptime and after the kids were in bed. It sounds good in theory. Usually I am much more pessimistic realistic about things, but I guess crafting clouds my judgment or something. What was I thinking?! My kids don’t go to bed! Psh! My kids are the life-size version of Whack-a-Mole at Chuck E. Cheese. Three kids each finding some lame excuse to get up times three equals me getting up nine times to put them back in bed. Rana is notorious for lying quietly in her bed for half an hour, then, just when we think she’s asleep and it’s ok to turn on a grown-up TV show or get out secret craft projects, all of a sudden she materializes in the living room declaring in her most lonesome puppy dog voice, “I can’t sleep,” while her eyes scan for snacks that Mr. Gren may have gotten out or the last swallow of tea in my cup (Yes, Mom & Dad, I know where she gets that from).

Obviously that’s a problem. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until Granota gave me an out.

We were cleaning house (cabin) on Saturday and Granota forlornly showed me her paper Axl doll. He’s a little crumpled; we’ve had to tape each of his legs back on; he’s looking a little worse for wear. But considering the life he’s had — created 6 months ago, getting slept on in a preschooler’s bed, buried and resurrected from the clothes drawer numerous times, and eventually hung from the curtain rod — he has survived surprisingly well.

But even a 5 yr old knows that a paper doll’s lifespan isn’t forever. So, as she cradled her little paper doll, she said wistfully, “I wish I had a real life Axl doll.” I knew what she meant, but I prodded her a little. “A real life doll?” “Yes, like Falilla [the fairy doll]. A soft one!” Rana was listening to this conversation and immediately piped up, “Me, too! I want one, too!” Just to verify, I asked her, “Want one of what?” “An Axl doll! I want an Axl doll, too!” To which Granota stated, “But they have to look different!”

Your wish is my command! I can do dolls in the time I have left before Christmas! No sweat! And that saves me from the ridiculous pace and long nights it was going to take to complete those afghans. I was considering just working on them at a leisurely pace throughout this next year, but I know myself too well. If I take things too slowly, I get bored and will never finish. Besides, Axl dolls and Axl afghans? Even for 1991 that might be a little… excessive (although as I was writing this, Granota was up in her room with “November Rain” on repeat, so that may be a moot point).

Soon to be replaced by a “real life” doll. But this one is so cute, I’m going to save it.

Now I’ve got to decide what to do with that yarn.

The straight dope on TwoFrogs

Blogging has been rather erratic lately and I’m sorry about that. It’s not that I haven’t been doing things — I have. Just not interesting things. Does anyone want to read about how I hemmed eight pairs of kids’ pants? I thought not. It wasn’t even interesting to do, much less talk about.  I reconstructed a men’s XL flannel shirt into a nightshirt for myself. But that’s only marginally interesting. If I took before and after pictures (which I did not), you would be hard-pressed to find any discernible difference. All I did was bring in the sides and shorten the sleeves. Not interesting. And remember that sock I was knitting on my knitting board? I’ve been working diligently on it everyday. But if I were to take a picture of that, you’d wonder why it doesn’t look any different than it did the last time I showed you (Answer: I screwed it up the first time and had to start over). I did finish the front panel of a sweater on my large knitting board, but by itself it isn’t a very newsworthy item. Last night I began another picture afghan (Axl #2 — Christmas present for Rana), so once again, another long term project. I think that’s the problem here. Everything that could potentially be of interest is weeks away from being finished. So that’s where things stand, craft-wise.

And now for something completely different.

Tomorrow marks our one year anniversary in the cabin! 1 year, 39 mice, 2 bats, 1 frog, a plague of flies, and 1 flying squirrel later, we’re still here. From creatures in the ceiling to a wild turkey on the deck, we’ve experienced nature in new and exciting ways. Outside, the rain is coming down and inside we’ve got a fire going in the large stone fireplace. Chilly drafts come up between the plank flooring, but, between Axl and Mr. Gren, I stay plenty warm at night. Konik’s 3rd birthday is coming up on Thursday and I was thinking how life in the cabin will likely be among his first real memories. He has vague memories of his bedroom in our previous house, but probably thinks cabin life is completely normal, which I find amusing. We never thought we’d be here a year later. But thank goodness for our friends M & M who have so graciously let us stay here! I don’t know where we’d be, otherwise. It has been a tough year. Mr. Gren continues to search for a job that will support our family while continuing to work at the ol’ home improvement store. There’s just not much out there. There have been plenty of disappointments and we’re weary and life is far from ideal. But, we’re alive and there are bright spots along the way and if we didn’t have hope that someday things will get better we’d never make it.

I realize this is a rather somber post. So for your amusement, please accept this photo of our pet wild turkey.

She’s the last one left of the flock of five turkeys that used to amble down the highway and has decided that our little pocket near the river is a nice place to live. She eats out of our hands. She perches on top of our cars (I’m sure those claws are great for the paint). And, if we park near the cabin instead of up on the hill like we usually do, she gets upset and attacks the car.

Once, the neighbor’s dog got out and chased her. She surprised us all by flying up into a tree. She didn’t look comfortable  at all, but she was safe. After the dog was gone, we coaxed her back down with some nuts.

Sometimes cabin life isn’t so bad. And the scenery can’t be beat.

I’ll see what I can do about some smaller projects. Fun for me and fun for you! Thanks for reading.

 

Just a little patience

{Insert fanfare here}
Hooray! I finally finished my Axl Afghan!! You saw the completed portrait part on the 4th of July (and if you didn’t, shame on you. Or, just tell me you were shooting off fireworks or something and make me feel better).

Complete with border

I had lots and lots of yarn tails to weave in. 261 yarn tails, give or take a couple (yes, I saved them all for the express purpose of counting them like an obsessive weirdo). That’s where the patience came in. Many evenings were spent weaving in little ends. There were times when I wanted to quit, but then I wouldn’t have this totally rad afghan.

The finished back. No more little yarn tails! No more fuzzy back!

I blocked Axl out (took him two and a half days to dry — that Tunisian crochet is pretty dense). I added extra black to the sides to widen the panel and make it more blanket-shaped rather than beach towel-shaped. And then I added on the granny square-style border using all the main colors from the portrait. I wanted a lighter stitch for the border since the center part is so thick and heavy. I like the effect.

This photo refuses to flip. Turn your heads to the right.

There is a little problem, however. In my first round of granny square border in black, I made too many of those 3 dc across the top and bottom of the portrait. Then, with every round I added, the ends got wider and wider, which is why the border looks a bit ruffled. Axl Rose and ruffles. I’m sure he’d be thrilled. Oh well, he doesn’t have to use it (how weird would it be to use a blanket with your own picture on it…?!). There are plenty of us here in the cabin who are vying for a cuddle with Yarn Axl. Nothing warms a mother’s heart like hearing her daughters argue, “It’s my turn to sleep with Axl!” Step aside, girls; he’s mine.

Granota grinning and Rana “sleeping”

So now they’re putting in their requests for their own Axl Rose afghans. Granota very specifically stated that she wants one with a picture of him dressed like he is in the Sweet Child video. That may put my skills to the test; it was a lot easier to do one of him half-naked. Rana hasn’t specified her request yet. Mr. Gren has already told me that he wants a Larry Bird afghan (who wants to snuggle with Larry Bird?). I have a feeling that there won’t be as much fighting over that one.

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!