Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Second One's Done

I've been working on projects that I'd started through the spring and summer, but hadn't yet completed. In a couple of cases, they were big, warm, and not things I wanted on my lap during the summer. In other cases, I started and then got restless, so drifted to another project. I usually have a few different projects going at once, using different techniques, but this last summer I was finding it difficult to keep my interest going in any of my ongoing projects, no matter how enthusiastic I was when I began them. That seems to be over now, I am happy to say. I have ideas, plans, and stuff I want to try, but first I wanted to finish some of the stuff I'd already started. I finished my swoncho and a blanket. I completed a poncho, which I wore for a few days afterwards. Last night, I finally made the second armwarmer of a pair I'd started a couple of months ago. I made the first one in a little over an hour, set it aside, and then looked at it every time I was in the bedroom. I'd think, 'I should make that second armwarmer,' before moving on to a different project.
photo by Bill Burke

They're just a simple tube with a thumb hole done in a granny stitch. The pattern was in a small magazine our daughter sent me earlier this year. The yarn is black, an almost turquoise blue, and pale purple strands plied together. It's quite nice. I look forward to a cool down so I can wear them, but for now I am happy that the project is complete. I am thinking about making another pair, but making some changes. I have a ball of Noro that would work well.

After I finished this project, I started a piece using the scraps left over from the blanket. That should not take long. Just as well, since the bits and pieces of these various projects and the supplies I was using to make them were piling up alongside the bed and in the space around my end of the couch. It's much less cluttered in both places now! Yay!

I'm off to work on the heel flap of a second sock. Hope your day is pleasant and peaceful.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


When I received a bunch of yarn in colours that shouted 'Autumn!!!' I decided almost immediately to make a blanket with it. I had one idea, started it and was not really into it. It was OK, but didn't seem right, so I ripped it out. I tried something else, but wasn't getting the kind of fabric I wanted, so I ripped that out, too, and began again. Third time's the charm.

I made 9 squares using crochet moss stitch on the diagonal, increasing on each side every row until it was as wide as I wanted it and then decreasing every row until I was at the opposite corner. I did a one-round hdc border around each square and set it aside. When all 9 were done, I embellished them using surface crochet, and motifs that were tatted, knitted, and crocheted. I left it for a little while after that, since it was too warm to connect the squares and have a big warm piece of crochet on my lap. When it cooled off enough, I put the 9 squares together and found that it was wide enough and I did not really want to add anymore width, so I knitted a panel at the top and the bottom. Then for a final border, I did a few rows of extended simple stitch in Tunisian crochet on either end and did a few rounds of slip stitch around the whole thing. This added the variegated border without adding any more height or width.
I had a lot of fun with this. I was never sure where I was going to go next with it next and then suddenly it was done. I enjoy making blankets a lot because they lend themselves well to experimentation and inprovisation. They can also be completely mindless, which is sometimes exactly the right thing! When I was in grad school, I made blanket after blanket for just that reason. I was extremely busy with my classes, research, and job, had a daughter in middle school and Bill was working graveyard shift. Fifteen or twenty minutes of mindless crochet back and forth and row by row was very relaxing after a long day!

Now I am wondering what my next project should be. I'm sure I will figure it out and in the meantime I have a couple of smaller things I could work on.

Here's how I make the diagonal moss stitch square:
--Ch 3
--(sc, ch1, sc) in 2nd ch from hook, ch 1, turn

--sc in 1st st, ch 1, sc in next ch 1 sp, *ch1, sk next sc, sc in next ch 1 sp, rep from * until you reach the last ch 1 sp, then ch 1 and sc in last sc, ch 1, turn

--rep last row until sides of triangle are half the circumference you will want your sweater to be (if you want a sweater that measures 36 inches around, keep increasing until the sides measure 18 inches across)

Now you will begin decreasing.

--next row: sl st in 1st sc, *sc in next ch sp, ch 1,  sk next sc, sc in next ch 1 sp, rep from * across.  When you've made a sc in the last ch 1 sp, ch 1 and turn.

--rep previous row until you have three stitches left.

To make it a rectangle, just increase on both sides until you reach the desired width and then continue increasing on one side while decreasing on the other until you reach the desired length. Then decrease on both sides until the end. makes a nice scarf.

Using this stitch diagonally is great for scraps, stripes, colour changing yarns or you can make one half of the square in one colour and the other half a different colour, as I did for this jumper
 By just doing the first part, you can make a nice shawl--just stop increasing when it's as wide as you want it. I made this shawl in this way, alternating colour each row and leaving the tails as fringe.

The way the stitches are places gives it the appearance of vertical stripes, but only one colour was used to crochet each row.

You could also just do one large square or rectangle to make a blanket that way. I made this one years ago for the dogs we had then. I made this one with a big hook and using two strands of worsted weight held together.

As you can see, I like using this stitch in this way and have used it a lot. It's so versatile! It probably won't be long before I am using it again. 😊

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Autumn or Christmas?

I have been working with autumnal colours lately, courtesy of some friends who sent/brought yarn to my door.

The other night, I decided we needed a dishcloth suitable for the season, so I cro-hooked one, using a double-ended hook that a friend gave me. I like it.
 With this variation on Tunisian crochet, you get a fabric that has a different prominent colour on each side, as you see. It's fun to do. I have a scarf in progress that I am doing this way.

This afternoon, I finished weaving in the many ends on a large project, which will require two to photograph. Later on I will hold it and Bill can take the pics. With some of the scraps from that, I made a placemat.
I did this in Tunisian crochet, using an extended knit stitch, which creates a solid row and a more open row on top all at once. I had planned to do surface crochet across the more open rows, but decided I liked the weaving better, so I did that using two strands of worsted weight yarn for each row across. Sometimes I used two strands the same and sometimes two different. I was fussily straightening out the twists, but then I stopped because I realised I liked it better with random twists in there, especially the undulations created on the rows where two different colours were used.

Although it's autumn and I have been working with brown, rust, yellow and orange, it feels a bit like Christmas! On Monday morning, a new charity shop popped up, so Monday afternoon, on our way home from getting groceries, we popped in. We were looking at the books when I suddenly bent down to a bottom shelf adjoining the bookshelves and started pulling out cones of yarn. Two out of the three were pushed to the back. When we went to pay, the woman asked hesitatingly of a euro per cone was OK. It was more than OK. They have a new home, of course. When we left the shop, Bill laughed and asked, 'What do you do, smell it or something?'  Yeah, something like that! 😉

Today, one of the same friends who brought yarn in the past, brought more yarn and these great booklets called The Art of Crochet! There are a bunch of them, including a huge binder full! each booklet has holes punched in it to go into the binder and comes with a small skein of yarn! I will have many happy hours looking through all these! What treasure trove of inspiration and ideas.
I even had a couple of books in at the library today!

Happy days!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

WIPs to FOs

For several months, I have been jumping around a bit with my stitching. I had several projects started, but throughout the summer, I would often feel restless and at times, none of the started projects were things I felt like working on at a particular time. Some other stuff had to be set aside because it was too uncomfortable to have on my lap, even when I wanted to work on it. I always have different projects using different techniques in progress because that way I can move from one set of hand/wrist/arm movements to another and not end up in pain. This was beyond my usual way of working though. It started to bug me, actually, but it was summer and in addition to my usual difficulties with the season, I also had the pain and the aftereffects from the fall I took a couple of months ago, so I tried not to think about it too much and decided it'd all get dealt with eventually. I did whatever worked to distract me--if I felt like crocheting, I did. Knitting, tatting, crocheting, bit of sewing or cross stitch--whatever I felt like doing on a given day, that's what I did. I completed some smaller projects, but some larger ones just sat in a pile.

Now summer is officially over (I cannot express how thrilled I am by this!), and I am feeling better. The pain has dwindled to a little bit of discomfort that is not even noticeable at times. While it is not as cool as I wish it was, and I am still eagerly awaiting the day when I can close the windows, it is far more pleasant than it was. I am able to work on things that sit on my lap and last weekend, I finished my swoncho (sort of like a sweater-poncho combination). Last night, I finished a poncho I'd started a few months ago.
I went around and around for a long time, deciding how to use this yarn. I've had it for a couple of years, since I walked into the charity shop in Killybegs one afternoon and spotted it--two large hanks of Donegal tweed in a beautiful blue with specks of purple. I made a beeline for it, as you do. The hanks were large, but there were only two of them, so I knew I would not be able to make a sweater, for example. I considered smaller projects--hats, cowls, other accessories--but I already have a hat in a very similar, though thinner, Donegal tweed. I also have a big blue cowl. The yarn was a little bit thick and thin and not something that would wear well for anything like mittens or socks. In the end, I decided to try a poncho. I started knitting it on big needles and it just wasn't working for me. I decided to use a big crochet hook (8mm) and use my go-to stitch combo for when I want to stretch the yarn--the net stitch with ch3 spaces.
I made two triangles of the same size and then joined them, leaving a neck opening. I started each triangle at the bottom point and worked up, increasing at the beginning and end of each row. I crocheted 1 round around the outside of each triangle and two rounds around the neck opening. I have a couple of small scrap balls of yarn left, so this approach worked well for stretching the yarn as far as it would go--yay!

I still have a few more large projects and a couple of smaller ones in progress. Two of the big projects have been ongoing for a while and I know they will not be finished anytime soon. They're large tatted pieces and tatting is not a fast process. I also have a big hand sewing project that will not be done quickly. I don't mind this, since I do like having some projects ongoing that I can easily pick up and put down as the mood strikes. I have a bunch of ideas and plans for new projects, but I am going to try to complete the blanket I am working on, the second sock that is on the needles, and the second crocheted arm warmer to match the one that is upstairs by my bed, before I start anything new. We'll see how that goes! In the meantime, I eagerly await a bit of cooler weather, so I can start wearing more yarny stuff!!

Monday, September 18, 2017


In the spring, I decided to use some of the wool I'd picked up at the charity shop in Killybegs for a warm 'thing.' I was not exactly sure how I would proceed beyond the first bit. As I was making one bit, I was thinking about how to make the next bit. I wasn't sure whether it would be like a poncho, a cardigan, a sweater, or a wrap when I started. At some point, I decided I wanted sleeves and was on the second one when it got too warm to have it on my lap, so I set it aside. Last week, it seemed cool enough to work on it again, so I brought it downstairs and worked on it a bit each day. I did a little more crocheting yesterday and then spent some time weaving in the ends.
It's not quite a sweater and not quite a poncho, so I guess it could be a swoncho.I wanted it loose, but not as wide as a poncho and I wanted sleeves. This way I can wear my backpack and not have everything bunching up too much. The yarn I used was all on cones and somewhere between laceweight and fingering. I used two strands together--sometimes the off white with brown or green Donegal tweed and sometimes the greens together or two brown strands together, using whatever stitches struck my fancy for each section. It's mostly regular crochet, with a couple of panels of Tunisian honeycomb.
After all that crocheting, there is still wool left on the cones. Maybe I will make some fingerless gloves and wait for things to cool down enough for me to wear my new swoncho (and all of my other wonderful winterwear).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Whales and Dolphins at the Library

We went out to do errands this afternoon and instead of saving the fun stop for last, we started at the library. We returned stuff and chatted with Gerard. He'd picked up one of the books I requested at the Carndonagh branch and brought it with him to Moville today, so it was there. It's a novel called Inch Levels, which is the name of a place in Inishowen. The review I read said that it captured the contradictions of life on the Inishowen Peninsula and really illustrated Irish mannerisms and ways of speaking. How could I not request it? Hopefully the story is good, too!

They're using a new courier to move requested material around the country and there are a few glitches, so the rest of the 'in transit' stuff had not arrived. While we were there, someone did drop off a box of stuff, though, and there, at the bottom of the pile, was a Celtic cross stitch book I'd asked for. Great timing!

Inishowen Whales and Dolphins has a nice display up in the library, along with this guy, who is just hanging around 😁🐋
The group put up a nice informational display--this is a piece of it.
After we left the library, we went and got a bunch of groceries, which is not as much fun as the library, but it is nice to have food around the house.

My leg is doing a lot better. I carried home a full backpack, walking uphill and did not have any pain.  There is a slight autumnal feel in the air at times, so hoping I will be able to venture out more often now without feeling crummy afterwards. I do find myself being a little bit fearful of falling again when I am out, but I suppose that will fade eventually--at least I hope so. For now, I am just appreciating the fact that I am healing!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hat by Request

The other day, Bill asked if he could have another hat just like the one he was wearing, but in a different colour. I think he was pretty sure his request would be enthusiastically granted and he was right. 😁 He chose his yarn and I started crocheting. I finished this afternoon.

Here is a close-up of the outside (the colour is off on this--the actual colour is what you see above).
I love this fabric--it's so squishy! I've used this stitch  (hdc worked in the round through the very back loop) many times for hats and other things but today as I was weaving in the ends, I noticed the back side of the fabric in a way I hadn't before. Maybe it was the yarn that made me stop and admire it. I quite like it. The pebbly texture is a nice contrast to the smoothness of the other side.

So Bill has his new hat and I will get back to my larger ongoing projects. It's cooled off a wee bit now, so I can work on a couple of them that will sit on my lap. It'd be good to finish a few of the ongoing projects before starting a new one, but we'll see how it goes. I have been feeling a bit creatively restless lately and moving from thing to thing. Ah well, a few stitches here and a few stitches there and eventually it'll all get finished!

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Rest of the Bunch

Here's the rest of the August book list. I must say, that even though it's much the same outside today as it was yesterday, I am thrilled that we are now into September. I scrolled through a cross-stitch e-magazine from the library this morning and was smiling at all the autumnal charts--leaves, trees, pumpkins scattered throughout. I think I'll start stitching some of them.

A Bird in the Hand by Ann Cleeves
I discovered this author’s Vera series and enjoy it quite a lot. When I was looking her up, I found out that she had written an earlier series (starting in the 1980s) that revolves around a retired couple who are involved in bird-watching. The library didn’t have these, but the e-book section has recently added them, so I am starting at the beginning--this is the first book. I am not familiar with bird watching culture, so that is one interesting aspect of the book. It’s a pleasant cosy mystery with an unexpected (to me, anyway) ending. I enjoyed it and have the next two in the series on reserve.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
I do not remember where I read about this book, but once I did, I requested it from the library. I am so glad I came across it. It was one of those books that, once I’d finished it, left me unsettled and a little bit dazed. There were a lot of things to think about here, but one of the things that kept popping up was the dangers of complacency in a democracy. We learn from the narrator that at some point, some fringe political group came up with the idea that all women over 50 and men over 60 who do not have children or work in some capacity that is ‘useful’ should be brought to units where they have every material thing they could wish for, but who are then asked to ‘do their part’ by taking part in medical experiments and donating body parts. Eventually, this idea moved from the fringe to the mainstream. People in the book, when challenged about the ethics of certain things, would frequently respond that it must be OK, because they live in a democracy. The Atlantic has a good detailed review of the book here, so rather than go into greater detail here, I will refer you to that. This was not a fun read, but it was definitely worth reading.

Silent in Finisterre by Jane Griffiths
The latest poetry collection from this poet. Poems inspired by landscape and houses, esepcially those from childhood. I came across the book while scrolling through the library’s e-book section.

The Ambleside Alibi by Rebecca Tope
This is the second book in the author’s Lake District series. Windermere Witness, which I read earlier this month, is the first. Bill found this one at a pop-up charity shop. Persimmon (called ‘Simmy’) is a newbie in a small village and a florist who has an unfortunate new habit of inadvertently getting involved in murder investigations. In this one, she delivers a birthday bouquet of flowers with a mysterious message to an elderly woman. Not long after, another elderly woman in the same town meets an untimely end. Everyone is connected in the small village and there are many secrets from the past that won’t be secrets forever. I have already downloaded the next two books in the series from the e-book section of the library website.

Come Death and High Water by Ann Cleeves
This is the second in the cosy mystery series featuring George and Molly Palmer-Jones in which bird watching is an ongoing theme. I quite like this series and the author’s Vera series, so I plan to read this one until I reach the end and the other as new books are published. In this book, a group of amateur bird people converge on an island observatory for an annual meeting. The owner of the island announces his plans to sell it, but he is not around long enough to follow through.

Murder in Paradise by Ann Cleeves
This is the third in the Palmer-Jones series. George arrives on the island of Kinness for an annual visit with his friend, the schoolteacher and keen birdwatcher. He comes in on the same boat as Sarah and Jim, the latter a native of the island and the former his new wife. She is excited to be starting a new life on the island. It’s not long before secrets start to bubble up and trouble arrives.

The Consiton Case by Rebecca Tope
The third in the Lake District series of cosy mysteries featuring Simmy, the florist, and a cast of small town characters. This one seemed a bit convoluted with mysterious flower orders leading to misunderstandings, anger, and hurt feelings. But do they have anything to do with murder?

Happy September!