Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Block #19: Squares & Ladders

From Eaton's...

A quicky, since I've left my book at work, I made up the name ofthis one :)

Boy, was this a tricky square to get started. Far out! I must have unravelled it at least 5 times, always miscounting! Probably didn't help that I was watching the Mens Final @ the Australia Open!!

But in the end, I liked it. And it was good to work once I got going. I can see a WHOLE rug made of out this square, like you would make a whole rug out of granny squares. There's something nice about even rows with a nice open weave.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Block #18: "Baby Blocks"

From Eaton's...

Block #11: "Baby Blocks"

Nice looking block. Have never tried it because, I mean, look at it! You're changing yarn every four stitches!! But once I'd got the dragging-yarn-across-the-back-of-a-square thing down last week with ZigZag, it felt natural to try it. And it was easy :) just as long as I concentrated on keeping the yarn untangled!

A nice square for perhaps an accent square in a throw. Or indeed, it would make a good coaster, being a nice tight weave. Or, a dishcloth!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blocks that should but don't match

Yesterday I wrote about how sometimes despite following a pattern for blocks that should be the same size, you'll end up with two differently sized/shaped blocks. I showed you Pink Stripes & Half&Half yesterday. Today, I give you my currently most extreme example:

BandOfBobbles & Half&Half could NOT be joined together or placed in the same blanket in their current form. They are supposed to be able to. I would have to rework one or both of them: by either working Half&Half in a size hook down, or increase BandofBobbles hook by a size or two. I might actually rework BandofBobbles, since I enjoyed it but wasn't satisfied with the end result, and see what increasing the hook size might do.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

When blocks are misshapen...

Now, the other day I posted Block#15, Half&Half, & last week, I posted Block#13 BandofBobbles: both of these blocks I felt were shaped wrong. Here is an example of the difference between a good block & one that is out of proportion.

PinkStripes, on the right, is a good size & matches with a lot of the other blocks. BUT, it is longer than it is wide. However, it isn't blocked.

Half&Half is simply wider & longer. However, it is also not blocked. But it's a looser weave than the other blocks.

I'll be talking more about this, but this represents a good reason one should (a) block your squares, and (b) crochet a test square to check for tension.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Block #17: "Pink Stripes"

From Eaton's....

Block #36: "Pink Stripes"

Except it's not really pink stripes with that dark blue-aqua stripe as the contrast in there.

This was a pleasure to work. Quick to see results, it's worked in a half-treble stitch so it's not as loose as a treble-stitched block, but not as tight as a double crochet block. A nice block to base a rug on that needs a bit of substance perhaps ;)

This was also worked in that sneaky 3.75mm hook instead of the 4mm hook, something I didn't notice (whoops) till I was on the 2nd dark aqua stripe.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Block #16: "ZigZag"

From Eaton's...

Block #70: "ZigZag".

I tried making this block a few months ago and threw it down because you have to carry the yarn across the back of the piece, and boy can it get tangled up. But this block I started sitting at a table, so didn't tangle the yarn up from the first few rows, and as I was working through it to the end on the couch, I really got the yarn keeping going.

It gave me a nice boost of confidence about working with separate yarns, and NOT finishing & rejoining each yarn at a time.

It's Australia Day! Happy Little Vegemites we were at our house today. As I was bringing this post up, I realised I should have made a square in green & gold! Oh well, too late ;) However, I did make us a lovely lamington sponge today to have after bbq....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Block #15: "Half & Half"

From Eaton's...

Block #75: Half & Half.

Pretty straight forward block. 7 rows of each colour in treble crochet.

However, it is too wide, and too short. If I turn it on it's side, like this:

It is the same shape as other blocks.

I think it just needs to be washed and pulled into shape: ie, blocked.

A nice, quick & easy block.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Block #14 Part Deux

So, this is the square from yesterday that I posted:

Crocheted in two different types of acrylic, I posted that there was an ERROR in is. Did you see it?

I was in row 13 when I realised that I'd added 5 stitches of double crochet in my alternate colour over the last 4 rows instead of 4. (The pattern calls for increasing steps of "4 stitches of double crochet" in an alternate colour every 4 rows.) So by row 13, I had 13 stitches of my alternate cream colour and 15 stitches of the pink, instead of 12 (cream) and 16 (pink). I compensated in the next row by reducing my pink stitches by 5 and adding only 3 of the cream, instead of 4 and 4.

It's not overly noticable and in fact unless I point it out I'm not sure you'd notice it. But it's there, and I can see it. I could have undone the previous four rows (which I seem to constantly do some days) and correct the error, but in this case I didn't. Probably because it's a sample square and not for anything in particular. If it were for a rug or blanket, it might have been a different story.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Block #14: "Steps"

From Eaton's...

Block #45: "Steps"

Quite enjoyed this. I haven't been that good at the two-colours-in-solid-segments before, but I've got the hang of it now.

Now, just quickly tonight, a question to hold over for tomorrow: what have I done wrong in this square?

Comments are open ;)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sally The Westie

Well, I've spent all day putting together Ikea furniture & then rearranging our little apartment. The result: my big this-really-doesn't-fit-in-here dining room table is disassembled & ready for storage and in its place is two separate work areas for me and for the Mr, who is going back for work this week.

Also a result, I have done NO crochet today and am absolutely stuffed. So for your viewing pleasure, I give you...

Sally, the Westie.

(NB: Sally is my in-laws dog, and we wish she could come visit more often!!)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Block #13 part deux

Here is a MUCH better photo of yesterday's block, "Band of Bobbles":

And yes, that's the right colour!!

Ok, so now that we can see it better, let's talk a bit more about it.

(1) This colour of the acrylic is nicer and easier to work with. So that tells me that the brighter colour of the aqua yarn is simply the harsher dye interfering with the thread. That sounds right ;)

(2) This block is a LOT shorter that others I've made recently. Makes me think I've either counted badly wrong, or misinterpreted the pattern. The count on the pattern might also be off. So I'll be writing a note in my book, giving some suggestions for the next time I work the block.

(3) The misshapen bobbles. This picture, ironically, doesn't show them to the best/worst of their shape. When I started working bobbles (all of a week ago) I decided that I worked them front to back. So when I'm making the bobble, I pop it out to the back of the row, which makes bringing the top of the bobble & securing it to the double crochet stitch next to it nice and tight. (I'll demonstrate this later, I reckon.) (This makes the bobble POP.) The second & fourth rows in this square were worked from the other end of the piece, and required me to work the bobbles to the front. So some of them I think are too loose, and not enough bobble. They don't POP enough people!! I am unhappy with them.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Block #13: "Band of Bobbles"

From Eaton's "200 Crocheted Squares..."

Firstly, it's a terrible photo. I have poor (photo) lighting inside the house, which is why most of my photos are taken on my outdoor table in the courtyard. But I only just finished today's square, watching Bernard Tomic work hard at his tennis match in the Australian Open tonight, so it's badly lit.

Still enjoying the bobbles, but I want to talk about this square a bit more: maybe tomorrow, maybe later. There are some poorly constructed bobbles in (mainly) the second band of bobbles, which you can't see that well in this photo. I think I've figured out why, and it might just need to be practice.

I think this square would work well in a row of the same squares in a blanket. Or maybe in a geometrical pattern. And actually, Eaton has a demonstrated blanket layout in her book, with lines of this particular square featured.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blocking, and why to do it (part 1)

Blocking seems like a waste of time. Certainly when you're using specific yarns, it really doesn't seem like you need to do it. And with some soft yarns, you don't have to.

But this is why you should try to put the effort in.



See? Big difference.

More on this later.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Block #12: "Alternate Bobbles"

From Eaton's "200 Crochet Squares..."

Square #17: "Alternate Bobbles"

Soooo enjoying the bobbles. Finding the acrylic a bit tough to crochet in such a tight weave. Trying a different colour tonight/tomorrow, to see if there's a difference.

Again, crocheted in a 4mm hook, a double crochet with the bobbles in alternating stripes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Block #11: Bobble Diamond

From Eaton's "200 Crochet Blocks..."

Block #4: "Bobble Diamond"

This week is... Bobble week!

Bobbles are fun! But scary before you understand how they work. They look super cool: I reckon they'd look awesome in squares that make up the sides of a bag.

To create a bobble (specifically these bobbles) you work 4 open treble stitches in the same stitch, leaving 5 loops on the hook, & draw the yarn through all 5 loops at once. It'll want to pop out of the patch of fabric. Let it! In fact, encourage it. You've created a bobble :)

This is worked in that new acrylic yarn that I picked up last week, 4mm hook.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Four hooks of a kind...


There are LOTS of different crochet hooks out there. I'm going to give you a broad overview of the different hooks that I have in my collection.

I emptied my bag 'o hooks. I have like 4(!!!) 4.0mm hooks & at least 2 (possibly 3) 4.5mm. I think I kept buying them because I'd be traveling & I'd have forgotten my hook...

On the far left you have a traditional all metal hook. They're cool to the touch, and apart from their flat spot on the handle, have no obvious centre of balance. I find that they can slip around a bit in my fingers. I rarely use them.

The next set are a bamboo hook. These are reportedly easier for arthritic hands to use/handle. I find them quiet lovely to use. Like the metal hooks, they have no obvious centre balance (some don't even have a flat spot of hold, which can make them move around a bit, but easy to twist) but are simply like a wand, all made of the one material. Their silky smooth feel makes them lovely to work a soft yarn with, like a natural wool or angora.

The hooks in the centre with the white handles are my favourite! They are "Addi" hooks, a German brand. I loooooove them. I'm trying to collect the whole series. (In writing this tonight, my partner has just pointed out a new series by Addi: the Addi Swing! woah!!! Must research and bring a picture to the blog!) They've got a real defined centre balance with the plastic handle with their ridges, separate from the colour band (to make picking up the right size easier). They're just super comfy for me.

The last set is a big plastic set, which is fun to use beause their so big so you get a nice loose weave. They aren't overly comfy, but their not unpleasant to use in any regards!

I'll look at each hook separately in future, I promise :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Block #10: "Four Square"

From Eaton's "200 Crochet Squares..."

Block #109: "Four Square".

Done completely in double crochet, this square highlights how closely woven a square worked in double crochet can appear. The feel of this square is also firmer.

I also accidentally stitched this square using my 3.75mm hook instead of the 4mm hook I've been doing the previous week's squares. Whoops. In my own defence, the colour of the handle of the 3.75mm hook is a dark aqua, & the handle of the 4mm is a forest green. So it's also a smaller stitch.

This works really well with Block #9 that I showed in my previous post.

And thus ends "The Study In Pink"!!

(Back to Sherlock watching I go!)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Block #9: "Into The Pink"

From Eaton's "200 Crochet Squares..."

#101 "Into The Blue", except look at my colour choice! So, "Into The Pink" it is ;)

Quite liking my pink themed squares this week. I'm doing another square tonight which is in these same colours. I like the introduction of the green into the pinks. But then again, I've always liked pinks, greens (& purples). Had my whole bedroom as a 12 year old done in those colours!!

This is a good solid square, but it has little eyelets in the corners, which gives a nice relief.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Some new yarn

Picked up a few new lots of yarn whilst I was out and about today.

You can see I picked up three different types of yarn. There are two that are pretty similar, and one nice big ball of 8ply acrylic.

This is a big ball of yarn: 100g, 100% acrylic. Not as big as a ball of sock wool can be (which can be as much as 400mtrs), but still there's 283mtrs in this 100g ball. Yarn like this is a good, very affordable way to make a big throw. You'll get LOTS of squares with a few balls of these ;) I picked up four colours, and I'll show them off over the weekend. These were $3.50 (Australian dollars) each.

Picked up an extra ball of this yarn. I found it on special ($2.50) last year & got a bunch. Not on sale today ($5) but I was running low on this colour. This yarn is much pricier for what you get, but that's due to the fact it's a bamboo/cotton blend, so natural fibres, versus the totally acrylic ball previous shown. This ball is 50g and only 70mtrs. So if I'm using just one colour of this yarn in a square (see Block #3: "Sunshine Lace") I tend to use more than 50% of it up. It's good for baby jumpers/sweaters & face washers: it puts up with a lot of washing, but is a gentle, softer yarn as well.

I was absolutely thrilled to find a single ball of this yarn in this colour at the store today. It's like an urban myth! I bought one about 3.5 years ago over the other side of the country, and have never seen it again. Had several conversations with different people & we'd all come to the conclusion that the store had stopped carrying it. Again, it's a smaller ball of yarn (50g/85mtrs) so I'd only got a single dishcloth in a tight stitch out of it, and I gave it away!! I wanted to however, since it was to an old friend and she admired the bright colour of the yarn :) It is 100% cotton and it's a good solid yarn. Good for dishcloths!! Or coasters ;)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Block #8: "Increasing Stripes"

Self drafted (!!)

This is my first self-drafted block! I took the idea from the triple-stitched "solid square" & another Eaton block, "pin stripes" (which I haven't featured yet), combined them a bit, but increased one colour & decreased the other. The centre starts with a solid bit of light blue, and then a thin stripe of dark blue, and continued, decreasing the stitch size of that light blue from a treble down to a double (with a row of half treble in there) & increased the navy blue in proportion. I quite like it. It might work well as an alternative with Block #6, the Solid Square in blue, or even Square Target in a blue.

Stitched in Sirdar Baby, acrylic 4 ply.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crochet Me

There are some great resources for crocheters online. The first one I'm visiting is Crochet Me. Crochet Me was in beta for years. The website was delightfully friendly, simple, and laid the foundation for the one we visit today. There's even a few of my comments on older posts that are still around. ;-)

There are daily musings from different columnists, and some offer either advice, or tips & hints, pattern advice, yarn advice, book reviews. Or they talk about a project their working on, or a project you can contribute to.

The website also hosts a few free patterns. Members can put up their own patterns to share with others, and every few months Crochet Me will put out a free ebook. One must only join the site or put in an email address.

Since it came out of beta, it seems to be affiliated with Interweave Magazine. It looks like a good one, and every now and then I can see it on the shelves here in Australia. There are subscription offers on the site, and free magazines as incentive. The colours of the site have become a bit more subdued, but it's nicely laid out, and works well. Lots of resources, and just for crocheters. No knitting!! Not that there's anything wrong with knitting, not at all. I just crochet better ;)

I definitely recommend this site to be bookmarked by any casual crocheter. It's a great online resource.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Block #7: "Solid Square v2"

Same square as yesterday! From Eaton's "200 Crochet Squares..."

Block #150 (colour variation from #149): "Solid Square"

First in my alternate colour scheme posts. Take the square from yesterday and look at how it's so different here today. I've also slightly varied from the pattern, by not putting the centre colour around the edge as the final colour. It gives the centre of the piece a defined look. It would be a good variation to use in a bigger piece, and afghan or a rug, when the Solid Square is a key pattern.

I love the squareness of the pattern, the way the corners/turns are so defined.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Block #6: "Solid Square"

From Eaton's "200 Crochet Squares..."

#149: "Solid Square"

Looking at solid square blocks this week and this is a favourite to work. Very simple, all treble stitches, with extras in the corner.

This block works well for a coaster, and you can make a nice set using different coloured yarn.

Difference today: this block I've worked in a synthetic yarn. It's just lovely to work with because it's so soft.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

When things don't go as expected

I picked up a magazine from the UK called "making", that had a crochet supplement free. Five crochet projects, one of which is called "Lily's Blanket". It is made up of many many separate star-flowers, and last night I decided to crochet one up.

I started with a type of yarn that is recommended - sock yarn - and an appropriate crochet hook - a 2.5mm. Waaayy too small to work this pattern with. Went to a bigger 8-ply yarn with a 4mm hook. This is the result.

I have put the star aside. The pattern was too compact for this yarn and the hook, just like the thinner yarn. It is curling up at the edges, and looks lumpy. Instead of getting overly frustrated with it, I just put it aside. I'll go back to it, but sometimes projects stumble, and it's better to have a res and work on something else for a while. It gives you time to think about how to tackle the stumling block. In this case, I'm going to continue with this yarn, but go to a size 5mm hook. The yarn might be the issue: it might be too big a ply, but with a bigger hook it should work in the star's favour. I could also go back to the thinner 2-ply sock yarn and try a 3.25/3.5/3.75mm hook.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Block #5: "Daisy Chain"

From Eaton's "200 Crochet Blocks..."

#161: "Daisy Chain"

One of the blocks at the far end of the book, where 4 different colour choices are shown.

It seems this week is about circles in the middle of squares, with a bit of lace thrown in!

Have to admit that they are a favoured block. I like constructing the squares around the circles. I'm poorer at a more straight across worked square, and absolutely terrible at a diagonally worked square. I've never managed to get one right!

I also quite like to work clusters, which you can see in the centre of the "daisy" in this square. These clusters are different from the "Big Round" block I showed earlier in the week: these are only made with three treble stitches, not four.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jan Eaton's "200 Crochet Blocks..."

Jan Eaton's "200 Crochet Blocks for blankets, throws & afghans" has been absolutely essential to my crochet adoration. No, really! There are 200 different (some simply colour differences) crochet blocks to try your hand at. Just reading the book always puts me in the mood to pull out my yarn.

I found this book at my local library when I was living in a Bayside suburb of Melbourne. I'd grasped the basics of crochet earlier in the year and wasn't working full time, so I had extra time for learning. I just kept renewing it. I had to take it back at one point because, if you can believe it, someone else wants to take it out. Honestly!

I did end up buying the book and it's treasured. I'm hoping to work my way through all the squares in the book. Not sure how I'll go at that, since I do actually HAVE other books to pull designs from, but there are just so many lovely squares in Eaton's book!

Not only does she give good instructions for her squares, she also suggests complimentary squares and goes on to suggest ways to put the squares together in afghans and throws.

I highly recommend Eaton's book for any beginner or serious crocheter!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Block #4: "Old Vienna"

Eaton's "200 Crochet Blocks..."

#98: "Old Vienna"

Another lacey piece, I've posted this one today's without washing & pinning the piece whilst it dries, therefore not blocking it. Especially because it's a lacy piece, you can see it's more bent out of shape than usual. In fact I even draped it over a slightly curved surface to better show the design, so the rippling of the piece is reduced because of the underlying curves.

This was worked using a 3.25mm hook, and the bamboo cotton that block's #1&2 were worked in, not a 4mm that the other blocks were done with. S the stitches are smaller and tighter. But for me, this square has slight off chain stitches inbetween the treble stitches, which leaves the treble stitches a bit too far spaced for me. However, as I mentioned before, I haven't blocked it. I'm going to update this post with the piece after it's blocked!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Block #3: "Sunshine Lace"

From Eaton's "200 Crochet Blocks..."

#64: "Sunshine Lace"

I must point out that in Eaton's book this is worked in a sunny yellow, and my yarn here (a Bamboo Cotton, 70/30) is actually more a salmon colour, but it's definitely not sunshine-y. Maybe twilight-y or dawn-y...

This is a thicker yarn than the two previously worked blocks, which makes for a tighter weave in the crochet. As I was working the block this afternoon (whilst watching the tennis... Ahhh summer of tennis!) I thought that the yarn would make a good facecloth, or dishcloth. It's thick and holds water well.

I also pinned this into a square shape as it dried, so it would have been wonkier, I promise! This was also my first time working this square, and I like the finished piece.

Mostly worked in treble stitch, this square does feature some double treble stitches in the centre, which makes for the sunburst appearance: I quite like it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Block #2: "Big Round"

Today's block is also from Jan Eaton's '200 Crochet Blocks...'.

#173: "Big Round"

I like this block because it is a circle within a square. I really have to count this out as I work it, as I quite often get the amount of clusters* in the center wrong. Mostly I end up working 13 clusters, or sometimes 15 by the outside ring of clusters. These blocks often become coasters around house, home & the office.

This looks rather nautical to me this evening. I think it is because it reminds me of the sea, particularly off the coast of Perth, Western Australia.

* Cluster = made from 4 treble stitches, worked by keeping the second stitch, consisting of two loops, on the hook, and moving onto the next treble, until the 4th treble, when you draw all the loops through as the final stitch.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, January 2, 2012

Block #1: "Square Target"

Today's block comes from Jan Eaton's '200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws & Afghans': #3 "Square Target".

It's worked using a bamboo cotton, and very stable, so good for crocheted items that are getting a lot of washing, like baby blankets, baby clothes, washcloths or dishcloths.

When I work a design like this, I'm always nervous about how it will turn out, as it 'ruffles' as I work it. But once I 'block' it (wash it, stretch it out to it's shape and let it dry) it looks just like it should. You can see how I didn't pin it as it dried, but the way it is slightly out of shape in the right corners, compared to the left. I'll talk more about blocking in a later post, when I've blocked more types of squares in different materials.

This square is worked mostly in treble(US) crochet, with a round of double crochet around the edge. It starts with a foundation circle, and then rounds of a pattern which is increased, 8 rounds in total.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

All it takes is one square at a time

More than a few years ago, I couldn't crochet a granny square to save my life. The first attempt ended up being a circle that was all curled in on itself. It didn't get better. Then a few years later, I came across a "Learn To Crochet" section in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine, which I had spied at my Mum's. It made sense. As in, I followed the very easy set out instructions, in a liftout from a yarn maker's pamphlet, and ta da! I had my first granny square. Another few followed, and then a scarf appeared, and then a lap blanket.

I was off and running, and I just loved to crochet.

I also like making things for people, so my Mum enlisted me to make her a blanket for her bed. No problems I said! We went off and bought the yarn (beautiful soft angora wool in 5 different shades) & I started to make biggish 5" squares. What I didn't really take into consideration was (a) moving interstate, and (b) the size of my Mum's bed, which was a King. It eventually took me a year to finish, and it is much loved. Not just by my Mum, but by her cat.

This pattern has continued. I promise blankets or shawls, even potholders, and the projects never quite get finished. This makes me sad, anxious & even embarrassed or quite blue. So, I am starting this little blog off so I can try to write about finishing a project, one square at a time. It may also include lots of little individual squares, or even circles or hexagons (my current large project is a lovely lap blanket made out of smallish hexagons), as I try and blog a different square, circle, hexagon, potholder, or project every day, at least for this year. As I know myself all too well, this may end up being every second day or worse, but it is January 1st afer all, so let's start off on the right path.

Here is part of the blanket I am making for my friend.

It is a small hexagon that makes up the blanket. I believe I need around 75-80 hexagons. I think I have around 55. I have been crocheting this blanket for around 11 months now, which is a source of embarrassment for me. I have even crocheted a baby blanket inbetween. However! I am determined to finish it.