Saturday, March 31, 2007

Third Time's a Charm!

I finally managed to finish the 3rd capelet I started. I wove the ends in yesteday and then had to decide about blocking. I spread it out, fully ready to pin it into place if need be, but it just smoothed right into shape. So I sprayed it with distilled water and left it to dry, and here it is:

I am so glad this finally came together. It will be gifted to my MIL this evening. I have started the edging on my own capelet, and now I can't wait to get it finished!

As it turned out, my gauge was off a bit on both capelets. That's fine for these two projects, but it is something I will need to keep in mind if/when I make a vest or sweater designed by Doris Chan. And as soon as I lose some more weight, I fully intend to make myself some vests and sweaters!

Speaking of weight, I weighed in yesterday morning, and I had lost another 3 lbs. That makes 14.4 lbs in about 2 1/2 months. I am very pleased at how the diet is going, and I'm glad I had a good loss this week because the next 2 weeks are going to be challenging. Between the family birthday dinner tonight, a guest for dinner Tuesday night, and 2 family dinners next weekend, there are going to be ample opportunities for overeating. Even if I don't lose much weight, I have already vowed not to gain during this time.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Kitchen Nostalgia

Today, I thought I would take a break from talking about capelets. Hopefully I will have a picture of a completed capelet tomorrow (if I don't spend too much time on this post today).

Recently, the library finally got a copy of The Apron Book by EllynAnne Geisel, which I have been waiting for for months. I haven't had a lot of time to spend with it yet, but the first time I flipped through it, this picture jumped out at me:

Crocheted aprons! What a great idea. I wondered if the patterns might be available online somewhere. Well, lo and behold, it didn't take much looking to find one that is almost identical, and a second that is very similar. Both are listed on Crochet Pattern Central. Of course, I think I would have to be crazy to make an apron out of thread crochet - after all that work, if I ever spilled anything on it I would shoot myself! But I was glad to find the pattern.

Finding those patterns so easily reminded me of another time I went looking for a pattern. When I was growing up and living with my Scottish grandmother, we used to knit tea cozies one after another. As a matter of fact, the first thing I ever knitted was probably a tea cozy. Tea drinking was almost a religious experience for my grandmother, so we went through a lot of cozies. We always used the same pattern, and a few years ago, I found myself wondering if I could find the pattern online. The pattern we always made used 2 colors of yarn, with one color carried along the back. This made for a pleated fabric that was very insulated. Anyway, again without having to look very hard, I found the pattern online. Unfortunately it doesn't have a picture, but this pattern is similar enough that it will give you the idea. I don't drink tea, so I probably won't make a cozy even though I found the pattern. But I like the idea of knowing it's available, should I ever have the urge to make one. It makes me feel connected to my past, which is a good thing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Well, I took the time this morning to sign up for classes at this summer's Knit and Crochet Show (aka Chain Link/TKGA conference). I am taking a full day class on Friday on "toe up socks on 1 circ, including 2 at once", and 2 crochet classes on Saturday - foundation stitches/linked stitches in the morning and crocheted edgings in the afternoon. It is getting harder and harder to wait for July!

I was also successful at the LYS yesterday. I found a pretty cotton yarn from Plymouth called "Sundae Swirl". The colors are summery, and so far it is working up well. So here is what I have done on the 3rd Shoop Shoop Capelet. (Are you getting as sick of reading those words as I am of writing them?! Who knew I would become so involved with this simple little pattern!)

Hopefully I will get this finished in the next day or two. And then I'm definitely working on another project or two for a while!

Monday, March 26, 2007

The No End in Sight Shoop Shoop Capelet

On Saturday, I decided to try my Shoop Shoop capelet on and make some final decisions about length. I also wasn't completely sure I liked it, but wearing it for a while and looking at it in the mirror, I decided that I did like it and that it did need to be about 2 rows longer. Despite the fact that it is lacy and cotton, it felt really warm on my shoulders. And that's when I made my mistake. I had a "thought".

Next Sunday is my MIL's birthday and next Monday is my FIL's birthday. We are celebrating on Saturday night. Birthday gifts are always a challenge. But while I had the capelet on, it occurred to me that it would be a nice gift for my MIL. My DH liked the idea as well, but we agreed that the white was a bit plain. Off we went to Michael's, and we found a color of Lion Brand's Microspun that we liked. The label said "sport", so I assumed that I could hold 2 strands together and get worsted weight. In order to have some color interest, I held a strand of lavender and a strand of white together. We came home, and I went to work.

By dinnertime last night, I had finished the 9 rows of the body and just needed to edge it. But I took a good look at it and realized that while it is the same size as my first one, it is much heavier and far less lacy. In other words, it is not at all what I was aiming for when I started. I am demoralized enough that I didn't bother with a picture. Luckily, this is one of the fasted patterns I have ever worked up, so I will stop by the LYS on my lunch hour today and see if I can get a ww cotton or cotton blend that will give me the look I want. After all, I still have 5 days to get this present finished!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Almost a Shoop Shoop Capelet

Thank you for your well wishes to my mom. Everything went well yesterday, and now we just need to wait for the results of the biopsy, which we should get a week from tomorrow.

I kept busy yesterday while I waited, and I have 9 rows done on the Shoop Shoop Capelet:
It still feels a little small to me, so I think I will follow the pattern for the larger size and do 2 more rows. If it still feels small to me, I will probably keep going until I am happy with the size and then add the edging. Following the pattern, I bought 4 skeins of TLC Cotton Plus, and so far I haven't finished 1 skein yet. So I think I have enough yarn to make this as big as I want. And the edge pattern isn't dependent on having a certain number of stitches, so the pattern is very flexible. All in all, I am very pleased with the pattern and this project.

On an unrelated note, over at the CrochetMe blog, Kim mentioned something yesterday that I have been thinking about myself (and yes, this is going to involve grannies and ripples). It has been amazing to me how many of the grannies and the ripplers have mentioned in their introductions that they have either learned or relearned how to crochet in order to participate. Many have knitted for years but only now are picking up crochet. I agree with Kim that the color play going on in the afghans, and the long tradition that both kinds of afghans represent, is contributing to this crochet renaissance. But I also know from talking with people at the library, including some of the people who came to our crochet program earlier in the month, that there is a growing interest in crochet, particularly among knitters. I'm not sure what exactly is driving this phenomenon, but I think it is one of the most exciting trends I've encountered in years.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Doris Chan Mood

I'm going to have some time on my hands tomorrow. My mom is scheduled to have a biopsy of her nose tomorrow morning because of all the nosebleeds, and they want to do it under general anaesthesia in case she starts to bleed again. So we have to be at the surgi-center at an ungodly hour tomorrow morning. We will be there several hours, and then I will need to stay with her for a while after I get her home, just in case. So of course the question is what should I bring to work on during this time?

Well, between my cleaning frenzy on Saturday, and a well-timed email from Deneen, I have decided that I am getting back into a Doris Chan mood. I noticed on Saturday that I have a lot of yarn set aside for Doris Chan projects, and it's time to get to work on some of them. So I am going to attempt to make the Shoop Shoop capelet tomorrow. It's 9 rows and an edging, which means this should be doable. I am also bringing the moebius shawl that I started and then haven't worked on since January. These patterns strike me as easy enough to do, even if I'm tired (which I will be), but challenging enough to keep my interest. I will let you know Thursday how successful I am with this plan!

Monday, March 19, 2007

You Saw the Before Pictures... Now I have after pictures - after cleaning up the yarn room, that is. Sadly, after spending most of Saturday afternoon straightening up, it doesn't look all that different. But at least the bed is cleared off. I can tell you that between shovelling heavy snow Saturday morning and cleaning all Saturday afternoon, I was tired Saturday night!

Yesterday, I didn't do much besides laundry and basketball watching, so I finished up my afghan square for Whoduknit. It came out 12" square, but the middle is pulling in a bit, so I may need to gently block it, even though it is acrylic.

I used Plymouth Encore yarn and the moss stitch.

Now I just need to finish the book and find time to make a second square!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Some Days are Diamonds

Yesterday, I decided to get up early and go to Weight Watchers because I didn't think I could make my normal Saturday morning meeting, what with the snow storm and all. The meeting was cancelled, but someone was there to weigh us in. I'm glad I went, because I lost 2.6 lbs last week! That brings my total up to 12.4 lbs in 8 weeks. However, there I was at 7:30 in the morning with nothing to do. How often can you say that?! I went over to McDonalds and had breakfast (which my dh thinks is terrible - McDonalds after Weight Watchers), but that only took 10 minutes and I still didn't need to be at work until 9:00. So I had a bright idea - I decided to see if Walmart was open. Lo and behold, Walmart opens at 7 A.M. and people were already leaving the store with bags and bags of stuff. So by 8:10 I had acquired another 10 skeins of yarn. (The grannies and ripples have just shredded my yarn diet all to pieces - good thing the other diet is going well!) I have to say that buying yarn first thing in the morning really sets you up for a good day.

I was still at work early, so I used the time to catch up on some shelving. After much backing and forthing, we finally decided to close the library at 11:00 A.M. My dh had most of yesterday off, too, so we got to be snowed in together. As we sat there yesterday afternoon, with basketball on the TV, the cat snoozing by the radiator, snow falling outside and my fingers busy working on some preemie blankets, I thought to myself "could it get any better than this?" And I'm not really sure it could.

Before I close, let me share some pictures of the 2 preemie blankets I'm working on. One is a granny:

And one is a ripple:
My goal for today is to go upstairs and clean up my yarn room. Happily, there is a TV up there so I can monitor today's games, althought the only one we really want to see, Georgetown/BC, is on at dinner time. Have a great weekend and a great St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March Madness

Today is the official start of March Madness, but I have to say that I'm not feeling it this year. This is the first year since the 1980s that the UConn men won't have a post season. I have only been a fan since 1989, so I have never experienced this up to now. I keep reminding myself that the UConn women are a #1 seed, which I didn't expect this year, but they don't play until Sunday. So I'm having trouble getting in the mood.

Since basketball isn't doing it this year, it's a good thing I have March Madness of another kind going on! I can't believe how completely I have embraced both the ripple along and the granny along. These are definitely going to be my most successful "alongs" to date. And I am completely neglecting my knitting for them, which means I really am obsessed! It is time to get back to some charity work, however, so yesterday morning I pulled out yet more yarn. (Why do I bother storing it - it just ends up in bags and boxes all around the house!) My guild is going to be collecting preemie blankets before too long, so I began a preemie sized ripple and I picked out yarn for a granny square type blanket as well. It's rainy this morning, so I will take some pictures when both are further along and the light is better.

And, yes, I am resigned to having hundreds of ends to weave in on every project I make from now on! It's worth it to see the color combinations come together.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Triads and Split Complimentaries

As promised, I have pictures of more of the granny squares I made this weekend. In addition to playing with shades of one color, with a complimentary color thrown in, I also played around with 3 color combinations.

First, I tried some split complimentary colors. Split complimentaries consist of a main color and the colors on either side of the main color's compliment. On the color wheel, the colors form an isosceles triangle. The color combinations tend to be more muted.
Then I tried some triads. These are colors that are equidistant from each other on the color wheel. The colors form an equilateral triangle. These combinations tend to be brighter.
It was fascinating to watch all of the color combinations come together in the square. The colors look so different crocheted up than when the skeins are just sitting next to each other. And I love that my "swatches" will ultimately be useful.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shades of Color

I managed to make 11 granny squares this weekend, and tie in ends on 3 of them. I had so much fun playing with colors that I don't think I will stop with just this 11. However, I am running out of time this morning, so I am only going to post about the first 4 I made.

I started my experiment in color harmony by making a granny in shades of purple.

For the second one, I added some yellow, purple's complementary color, to the center.
The yellow doesn't photograph well, but in real life, it is amazing the difference between the two squares. The second one just pops out at you.

Then I tried the same thing with shades of blue. The orange is much easier to see in the photograph, and I think these two squares show the principle of adding the complementary color to shades of one color more clearly.

I have to say that tying in all the ends takes just about as long as crocheting the granny does. I have a lot of work ahead of me. But it is worth it to see how the colors work together.

Finally, I also worked on my ripple this weekend. Here it is, with all colors used once. Now I will start the stripe pattern over again. I can't wait to see how it looks once I start repeating colors!

Friday, March 09, 2007

More Ideas about Color Harmony

Hopefully, you are all enjoying this discussion of color as much as I am. Thinking through the concepts in Sanford's Manual of Color in order to summarize them here has really helped me to understand them much better. So, today, here are a few more ideas about harmonizing color:

1. Adding either white or black to a primary color produces 2 colors that always harmonize. So pink, which is red mixed with white, will always harmonize with maroon, which is red mixed with black.

2. Related to #1 is the idea of interchange - the breaking up of broad color areas with small amounts of harmonious colors, including lighter or darker shades of the same color.

3. Contrast warm and cool colors. Green, blue and violet are cool colors; red, yellow and orange are warm colors.

4. Balance colors, though not necessarily by using them in equal amounts. The balancing color should be less conspicuous in order to keep the original color prominent.

5. The same color tone should be used throughout the piece to avoid a clash of colors. I'm pretty sure this is where most people get into trouble. I really think most colors will work together on some level, if they are equal in tone. But throwing in a strong color with a bunch of pastels just won't work in a lot of cases. Or, as Sanford puts it:

In Nature, sudden, violent contrasts are comparatively rare, and even when they do exist, she is capable of harmonizing conflicting colors in a way art can never equal. Therefore, harmony may usually be more successfully attained by accord of colors and gradual gradation and delicate transition from one color to another, than by sudden contrast.

As I said yesterday, I will try to work up some granny squares as examples for some of these principles this weekend. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Of Grannies and Ripples and Wrestling Color ino Submission!

I had a major setback on my blue and grey ripple afghan yesterday. I started looking around online to see about buying more yarn for the project, and I discovered that Simply Soft Fisherman has been discontinued. I guess I shouldn't have started that afghan so impulsively! I considered putting out an SOS to every group I belong to on the web, but that seemed like a lot of work with no guarantee of success.

Then I had an idea - if I can't ripple, then I can granny! I can use the white sparingly, for just the first round of each granny square, and one skein should do me. When I got home from work last night, I worked up a square (astounding my DH with my speed!), and I have to say that I like it even better than the ripple. And if I run out of off white yarn, I can always make a few squares with a different color center. So I am off and running on a granny square afghan now!

Now, back to my discussion of Sanford's Manual of Color. I said yesterday that we would look at brightening and subduing colors today. According to the manual, the best way to brighten a color is to juxtapose it with its complementary color. Apparently, the eye adds the complementary color itself anyway, so seeing the two colors together heightens that effect. However, when complementary colors are mixed, they effectively subdue each other to the point of drabness.

Now, unless we are hand dying our own yarns, we are not going to be able to subdue color by mixing. However, the book goes on to make an interesting point. If you use shades of a single color, the eye will mix in the complement itself, thereby subduing the effect you were trying to achieve. So Sanford recommends always including just a little bit of the complementary color along with the shades of the original color in order to achieve the desired effect.

If I have time this weekend, I will try to make some granny squares that test out some of these color theories. Tomorrow - the impact of white and black on color harmony.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Color Thoughts

All of the rippling that has been going on around here has actually led to some interesting conversations about color between my husband and myself. In one of those odd life coincidences, just before I started the first ripple, my husband brought home a couple of books about color from his weekly book sorting gig. (He's in charge of the library's book sale each year, and if he sees books that he thinks might be worth selling for more than a dollar, he brings them home and looks them up online.) I've only had a chance to go through one of the books, but I thought the one I have read might make for an interesting post or two. Consider this another contribution to Project Spectrum, as well as a break from ripple talk.

The book is called Sanford's Manual of Color by John Ithiel Sanford and dates from 1910. It is only 33 pages long, but it has given me a lot to think about. He uses a hexagon rather than a circle or wheel that encompasses 15 different colors - three primary, three secondary, three tertiary and 6 intermediate colors. Primary are of course red, blue, yellow. Secondary are green, orange and purple, formed by combining primary colors. Tertiary are green/orange, orange/purple, and purple/green - or as he calls them, citrine, russet and olive, formed by combining 2 secondary colors. Finally, intermediate colors are formed by combining a primary with a secondary color - blue/purple, blue/green, yellow/green, yellow/orange, red/orange and red/purple. Or, as listed in the book, campanula, turquoise, sulphur, saffron, nasturtium and garnet. All of these colors together make up our modern color wheel.

As you probably know, each color has a complementary color which supplies what is lacking in the other. For example, green is made up of blue and yellow, so red is its complement because there is no red in green. Yellow and purple, and blue and orange make up the other 2 sets of complements. Now I haven't had a chance to test this theory out yet, but Sanford suggests that when the eye is saturated with one color and then closed, the mind's eye will remember the complementary color rather than the color you were actually just looking at. This makes understanding complementary colors very important if you want your colors to harmonize rather than clash. Tomorrow, brightening and subduing colors.

Now, I suppose I should close without a picture. Here is where I have gotten with the first ripple afghan. I only have 5 colors left to add in. I think then I will just repeat the colors in the order I have already used them, rather than continue with the randomness. I will probably prefer the symmetry, ultimately.

Oh, and just in case you would prefer granny squares to ripples, there's now a granny along as well!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Because Nobody Can Ripple Just One!

Who knew that ripple afghans are like the Lay's potato chip of the crochet world? Apparently I can't stop with just one! Actually, I ended up with time on my hands yesterday because I did call in sick. I just couldn't inflict my lack of a voice on the public. As I was looking again at all the pictures over at the ripple along, I started to notice how many afghans had grey in them. Then I started to think about Project Spectrum 2.0 and how I hadn't managed to use any of the colors we are supposed to be exploring yet. I also didn't have to look too hard in my stash for the colors. So it all came together, and I give you my second ripple - the Blue and the Grey (with some white mixed in):

I'm still using Simply Soft, but this time I am using "Gary's Ripple" from 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns. I used the random stripe generator for the strip pattern. I have plenty of the dark blue, but I am going to have to buy some more grey and white to finish. The white is actually "Fisherman" and it looks really nice next to the blue (although I haven't gotten far enough with my stripes to have the white and blue next to each other). I will probably donate this one when it is done.

I also had time to get started on my first afghan square for Whoduknit:

I chose a simple moss stitch pattern to start, and I'm glad I did because my first attempt was too big, and I had to reduce the pattern by 12 stitches to get it 12" across. (We are making 12" X 12" squares.) I'm still working out how I am going to shrink the patterns that have cables in them.

Ah well, play time is over. Back to work today!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Celebrating National Crochet Month

Dee reminded me this morning with her blog post that March is National Crochet Month. March kind of snuck up on me, but I would say that I am certainly celebrating already. I'm still so focused on my ripple afghan that I haven't even thought about knitting for days! I've only added one or two rows, though, so no new picture today. You can see the most recent picture here on the Ripple Along blog, as well as all kinds of other ripple pictures.

Then there was the crochet demonstration at the library yesterday. I was a tad nervous about the demonstration, to be frank. I didn't know who was coming from the guild, or how many people we would get who wanted to learn crochet. I was afraid we would get too many people or not enough, wasting everyone's time. To top it all off, we were having a big fundraiser for the library at the same time, selling art prints, so parking, which is never good, was just about nonexistent yesterday. As it turned out, 5 guild members came, along with 10 ladies who wanted to learn, and everything turned out just fine. I think everyone had a great time, and it sounds like the guild might just get a few new members from the day.

Unfortunately, not only is my sore throat still winning the fight, it has just about stolen my voice this morning. So I am still up in the air about going to work. It is hard to service the public when you can't communicate with them. If I do stay home, I intend to rest lots, and do some reading and some rippling along the way. And just so my friends from Whoduknit don't think I have forgotten them with all this talk of rippling, I will also get started on my blanket squares. Have a great, and hopefully healthy, day!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Of RIpples and Rest

As it turned out, I had plenty of time to ripple yesterday. I spent the day fighting a sore throat/cold (and as of this morning, the sore throat is unfortunately winning), so I put some of the housework on hold in order to rest. While I rested, I rippled!

It is just fascinating to watch how each added color changes the whole. When I pulled out some of the colors, I almost lost my resolve to add colors randomly, but I steeled myself and kept going. I think it helps that I am using the same yarn in different colors. It seems to give a consistency to the palette. At first, I took pictures with every color change, although I won't inflict all of them on you. But I'm glad I have a record for future reference.

In other news, I am starting to hate digital scales. For the past 2 weeks, I have lost .8 lbs each week, and my total weight loss to date is 9.8 lbs. Don't get me wrong, I am very proud of myself, but I am frustrated because in the old days, with a regular scale, I would have lost 10 lbs by now. But I suppose if that is all I have to complain about, I am a very lucky person!

Sore throat or no, I have to go to work today. Tomorrow my crochet guild is going to be at my library, teaching people how to crochet, so I can't miss that either. It is going to be a busy weekend. I promise I will find some time to continue rippling, though! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

All Ripples All the Time!

Yes, yesterday turned into quite the ripply day! For all my equivocating, I couldn't think about anything besides ripples all day. After I got off the computer, I went upstairs to my yarn room and pulled out one skein of each color I had in Simply Soft. Just in case you thought I didn't have enough stash to make a ripple afghan, here it is, 27 skeins worth, with the exceptions of black, most of the variegated colors, and some mill ends that I'm not 100% sure are Simply Soft (and there's more skeins of each color in the stash):

I culled the herd and whittled it down to 18 colors:

And that is as much thinking about color as I am going to do for this afghan. From here on out, I intend to pick the colors randomly.

Then I broke down and ordered the 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns book from Amazon. When I got to work, I noticed that we had gotten a box of new books from UPS. This is not really remarkable - we get these boxes on a daily basis - but sure enough, the first book out of the box was 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns! So by noon today, I will have 2 copies of the book in my hot little hands. I glanced at the book yesterday, and I'm not sorry I bought it. It's a keeper. The stitch patterns are all beautiful.

I have emailed Dawn to sign up for the ripple along, and I have done some thinking about the size of my afghan. I am leaning toward 42" X 60", big enough so that I can cuddle under it while watching TV. So I think all I need now is time to get it started, which I should get tomorrow. I honestly can't remember when I have been this excited about starting a project.

So, to stress Jane's wave metaphor a little further, by tomorrow I should be "hangin' ten". Surf's up and the water's fine - come on in! (And yes, I did live in Southern California for 16 years - I think we should queue the Beach Boys right about now!)