Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Returning to Cross Stitch

A couple of months ago, I put down the crochet hook and picked up an unfinished cross stitch project. I was headed to Hawaii for vacation and knew that if I packed yarn and hook, it would just take up space in my luggage. A cross stitch project is much smaller and more portable and if I didn't feel like working on it,  no problem. At least I would have something to do if I felt up to being crafty or needed to keep myself busy by the pool.

The project I chose to work on was started in the summer of 1997 - yes, 20 years ago!  As with all projects, there is a story behind when, where, and why a particular pattern was chosen. Here's the story that goes with this pattern, "The Night Before Christmas" from the January 1994 For the Love of Cross Stitch magazine.

My husband and I lived in a rural small town in the Mendocino area and in the evenings after he would come home from work, we would sit out back and relax. There was no air conditioning in the house so it was always much cooler in the shade of  the trees. We had a large meadow that bordered the backyard, so it was it was nice to unwind in our comfy chairs and look for deer. As he would tell me about his day at work, I'd cross stitch. At that time, I was not working and had developed a community of cross stitch friends through the America Online chat rooms and groups. I had my tribe and we shared tips, tricks, swaps, and pattern and fabric recommendations. Being that it was Mendocino County and my husband was in law enforcement, these ladies were my connection to the outside world.

One evening, my husband asked if he could give cross stitch a try. Of course, I jumped at the chance of including him in one of my hobbies and gave him a pile of magazines to find a pattern, with guidance. He saw the "Night Before Christmas" pattern and asked if that one would work. I had it on my to-do list and had the fabric and floss, so set him up with everything he needed to get started. For several nights we would sit and cross stitch - he on his project, me on mine - talking about the day and enjoying the quiet under the shade of the large oak trees that dotted our backyard.

He worked diligently on his project and I left him alone - knowing if I badgered him, he'd stop. What I didn't realize is that once he got to where the pattern splits across the two pages, he wasn't sure what to do, so he skipped a row on the fabric. He didn't realize that the row in gray (see where the orange arrows are pointing) is a reference row and has duplicate symbols from the row he just stitched.

When I finally checked on his progress, I noticed a long white empty row and asked what happened. He explained what he had done and I didn't know what to say. He had stitched a good amount below the white row and I didn't want to tell him frogging was necessary. But, I did. Shortly thereafter he was finished with cross stitching, but still fully supported my hobby. At some point over the past 20 years, I frogged that section and packaged the chart, project, and floss into a large zip lock as a grab and go kit, which is precisely what I took to Hawaii with me in April!

Here is what the project looked like when I picked it up again in April. It was a little less than halfway complete.

Here is what it looks like now - Completely stitched!  Adding beads is the only thing remaining to do, and then I will need to wash, iron, and find a suitable mat and frame.

What do you think?  Would add some holiday fabric around the edges and make this into a wall hanging? A pillow top? Or, frame it?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Crochet-Along (CAL) from Marly Bird

I recently joined my first Crochet-Along (CAL) and although I am a bit behind, it has been a very positive learning experience!  I am only on square #3 as the group zooms on to the newly released #5, but I hope to be caught up by the end of this week.

Never tried a CAL?  Interested in giving it a try?  Mosey on over to Marly Bird's website (#MarlyBirdCAL) at http://www.marlybird.com/ and check out the Crochet Stitch Sampler Baby Blanket.  Be sure to join the very active and fun group of crocheters on the Facebook page - lots of wisdom and great ideas floating around from this group!

I do have to say that this is not a beginner's CAL.  I've been crocheting for years and consider myself  at least an intermediate and sometimes, on a good day, an advanced crocheter, and finding the right gauge has given me a bit of a headache.  I know I crochet tight so I automatically move up a hook size or two on most patterns, but finding that sweet spot to have my squares come out exactly (did I mention I am a perfectionist?) 11 inches square has been frustrating.  I've done my share of frogging on the first square and once I had something close, I went for it. Not exactly 11" but close enough! The yellow ribbed square (1 x 1 Double Crochet Ribbing) was a fun front-post-stitch (FPS)/back-post-stitch (BPS) combo that is heavy but stretchy. When I block it, I believe I will be able to get it to the 11" size I am looking for.  this pattern would make an excellent pot holder done in a nice 100% cotton!

My second square required a change in hook size and an accommodation on the number of stitches as I really did not want to go to a hook size smaller than a G.  Instead, I removed one set of the pattern repeat, or 8 stitches, and stuck with my size H hook.  This turquoise Basket Weave pattern did come out right at 11" so when I block it, I will be sure to not stretch it at all. In all of my years of crocheting, I have never tried the basket weave stitch - loved it!!  Again, as I think about other uses for this pattern, it'd make a great potholder!  It is not as flexible as the ribbed square, nor does it have the stretch.  It does seem to be a solid pattern and with some fun edging in your favorite 100% cotton, you'd have a great potholder!

Loops & Threads Impeccable in Aqua (#01201) and Butterscotch (#01612)

I just started my third square today - the Fan Tail Crochet Stitch - and am already one set of rows into it - Rows 2-5 make the repeating pattern.  I have crocheted this pattern before and love the look!  In making adjustments, I've stuck with a size H hook and reduced the chain stitches by 10 to start with 42 rather than 52.  This removes one set of the repeating pattern and seems to be right on track for my 11" size.

Loops & Threads Impeccable in Rouge (#01531)
Although I've not watched them, Marly Bird has created a series of videos on her YouTube channel to help out the group in working through the different patterns. From the feedback of my FB group mates, I might need to watch the next one on the Bobble Stitch as I've heard that there are some techniques to get your bobbles to pop off of the pattern!

Looking forward to the next 6 blocks!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - A Year of Crochet!

Although I have been very delinquent in blogging, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been crocheting a lot this past year.  Below are some of the new patterns that I tried out or created on my own.  Many of the items pictured below have been sold before the holidays, so I am in the process of starting to rebuild my inventory for the next holiday season.
Fringed Crocheted Triangle Scarf
Fringed Triangle Scarf in Soft Blue
Ribbed Crochet Scarf
Ribbed Scarf in Turqua

Ribbed Crochet Scarf
Ribbed Scarf in Royal Purple (wool blend)

Ribbed Scarf
Ribbed Scarf in Garden
Ruffle Scarf using Starbella yarn
Ruffle Scarf in Starbella yarn

Bulky Ribbed Cowl
Ribbed Cowl in Navy using Charisma bulky yarn

Bulky Ribbed Cowl
Ribbed Cowl in Barley
Ribbed Scarf
Ribbed Scarf in Red
Flowered Headwrap
Original design flowered headwrap - flowers from other designers

Ribbed Scarf
Ribbed Scarf in Sunshine and Kelly Green
Newsboy Hat
Newsboy hat with Pink Rhinestone buttons - Charisma yarn

Ribbed Scarf
Ribbed Scarf in Orange and Black

All in all, it was a productive year!  I intend to do a better job in 2014 on sharing what I have on my hook as I am making my different handmade crocheted items!  Check back often as you won't be disappointed!!  Happy last day of 2013!