Tag Archive | tunisian crochet

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!

Celebrate good times, come on!

Oh yeah, it’s a party! Never have I been so relieved to finish a project as I was with Granota’s Cuddle Muffin jumper.

A little background history on this thing:

I have a Tunisian crochet book with a really cute jumper pattern that I wanted to make for Granota. One day, I was at Joann’s, wandering through the yarn and found their store brand self-patterning baby yarn, called Cuddle Muffin. Cuddle Muffin is what I used to call Granota, so obviously, this was meant to be! I struggled through the Tunisian pattern for several months. At first it was because I was new to Tunisian, but once I got the hang of it, it was just slo-ow. My wrists were worn out and I was coming to terms with the fact that Granota would outgrow the jumper before I ever finished it. The final decision to rip it all out came one day when Konik and Granota had the great idea to “decorate” the living room by winding my working yarn balls around all the furniture. I was so disgusted that I just crammed it all into a bag for a couple of months until I was of a sufficient mental state to untangle all that yarn.

The next time I tackled this jumper, I decided to go with good ol’ traditional crochet. I had another jumper pattern in a different book that I followed loosely. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But then I lost the scrap of paper that I had made all the changes to the original pattern on. The next few months were spent wracking my brain to try and remember what stitches I had used where, how many, what I had done to decrease at the waist… Sometimes I’d be hit by a flash of inspiration and crochet up a bunch only to discover that it didn’t match what I had done the first time. Somehow, finally, it all came together. Good thing, too. My brain cells were all about ready to jump ship if it didn’t work out soon.

The payoff is good, though. I have a happy little girl in a cute little jumper.

Rana asked me to make her one like Granota’s. I laughed at her.

I’ma claw my eyes out!

Argh!!!!

Seriously, folks. I’ve been working on a crocheted jumper for Granota for a year and a half now. I can’t even count how many times I’ve made it, only to have to tear out rows upon rows of work. It began as a Tunisian crochet project. I was just learning, but it didn’t look terribly difficult. After several months’ worth of false starts, I finally came to the realization that 1) Tunisian crochet is slow and 2) my child would outgrow the jumper before I had even finished it. I think I’ll save Tunisian work for items where growth spurts are not an issue. Like pillows.

A very nice swatch of Tunisian crochet that no longer exists.

I couldn’t completely abandon the project, though, because Granota knew I was making it. Silly me, I had made a big deal about the yarn when I bought it because it was called “Cuddle Muffin,” which was her nickname as a baby. I tried to convince her that maybe a sweater would be nice to have instead of a jumper (pinafore, UK readers). No dice. She asks me everyday, “Are you done with my Cuddle Muffin dress yet?” And if she sees me crocheting anything else (which is merely for my own sanity’s sake), she demands to know, “Why aren’t you making my Cuddle Muffin dress?!” Tiny tyrant!

For some reason, once I switched over to regular crochet, I combined a couple of patterns and then made up a fair amount of stuff as I went along. It was ok, though, because I wrote myself little notes on a slip of paper so that I would be able to replicate it when I did the front of the jumper. I failed to take into account that I have three small children who are intensely fascinated by my crochet stuff. That combined with their compulsion to liberally distribute my books and other belongings all over the living room resulted in a lost slip of paper with helpful notes on it.

Of course, I couldn’t remember what stitches or hook sizes I used on the skirt. Multiple test runs followed before I finally figured it out. For the love. Then came the waist decrease where helpful notes would have been really, y’know, helpful. Stitch three rows. Rip them out. Stitch three rows with a variation. Tear those out, too. I lost count of how many times I attempted that. In the end, it doesn’t exactly match the back piece, but it’s pretty close. At that point, I was willing to accept “pretty close.” Since then, I’ve been agonizing over the bodice. I think we’re going on three weeks now of that same ol’ song of Crochet half of it, then tear it out again. Swing your partner round and round.

Name that stitch.

I just want to be done. I thought I was almost done Sunday night. Then Monday morning, I laid out the front piece against the back piece and saw that I was, in fact, about to start completely over. {whimper} My grandpa teases my grandma, saying that she doesn’t use up yarn, she just wears it out. I told her that I must have inherited that gene. I hate this project now. Really loathe it. But I can’t stop because I’m bound by a promise to a sweet little girl.