Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Unravel the Stars

Over the Holiday weekend, I started up a new crochet project.  It's called the "Cowl-Shawl" and it was in the book "Quick and Simple Crochet Scarves".

Pretty cute, right? I started with a ball of very soft dark turquoise yarn, and jumped in.  There were 2 new stitches that I had to learn.  The first was called a  "Linked Double Crochet", and the second was called a "Star Stitch".  With the help of some YouTube videos, I got the hang of it, and started with the pattern:

The pattern starts from the bottom of the button band and works up from there.  I thought it seemed a little small, so I went up a hook size and started again.

After the second time through, I realized that this "cowl-shawl" was going to be an intense project, that is, it was not something I could breezily work on while holding a conversation, or watching TV.    I decided to start over using a neutral colored yarn so that I could get lots of wear out of it after all that work.  Here is how it looked in the new yarn color:

The Star Stitch rows were a challenge to figure out at first.  You insert the crochet hook into five different spots and draw up a loop:

Next, you draw the yarn through all six loops on the hook:

And lastly, you chain 1 to complete the bottom half of the star.

The top half of the star is created on the return row:

Things were going pretty well, until I reached the point where the cowl portion began to take shape:

I couldn't quite visualize how this was all going to turn out in the end.  For one thing, being a left handed crocheter, my increases were on the opposite side. (I didn't want to end up with a cowl that might possible have to be worn "wrong side out".)  Secondly, there was no photo or diagram in the pattern that showed what the finished piece looked like when laid flat.  (There was just this photo for reference, and much of the cowl-shawl was hidden under the model's hair:)

Finally, my hand was beginning to ache when making the star stitch rows.  I think that having to continually pull the yarn through 6 loops required just enough of an extra pull that it was overworking my fingers. It seemed like a good idea to avoid the extra workout.  With 3 strikes against it, I decided that this pattern was just not for me.  I pulled it all out.

No problem.  I already have my next pattern in mind.  I have a new pattern book that I am eager to try.  It is called "100 Quick and Easy Crochet Stitches:

The book is filled with lots of pretty swatches, each with a picture and the directions to make the pattern:

A little math is all it will take to figure out how many pattern repeats I will need to get the width of a prayer shawl.  As you can tell from the multitude of pink post-its at the top of the pages, I have found lots of inspirations!

So, the "Cowl-Shawl" is not going to happen, but I did learn a couple of cool new stitches, and it kept this crochet  "hooker" out of trouble all weekend.  :-)

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

4th of July with no Fireworks

My quilt guild is putting together a calendar with a quilt photo for each month.  Guild members could submit photos to be included in the calendar.  They had to be 16" X 20" in size, and be representative of a particular month.  My month was July.  Without any particular plan, I started out with these fabrics:

I decided to make my quilt with 4-inch blocks arranged in a 3 X 4 setting.  I chose a LeMoyne Star for my block pattern, and used Electric Quilt to come up with a design.  In my head, I was thinking "Patriotic Fireworks".

I used Deb Tucker's Rapid Fire LeMoyne Star ruler to create the blocks, and played around with various combinations of striped and solid fabrics.  Using the red/white/blue striped fabric for all eight points of the star was rather dizzying to look at.  I decided that alternate points of navy blue would be better.

I quilted around each star, and used 3/8" spaced diagonal straight lines for the background.

The  16 X 20" size limit made it difficult to do much with sashing and borders. In the end, I went with no sashing, a 1/2" red border, and a 2" border of the Fireworks fabric.

This is the only picture I have of the finished quilt.  I brought it to our June meeting, thinking I would have the opportunity to bring it back home to get better photos of it.  However, the quilts were retained by the Calendar Committee for photography.

So here it is, July 4th, and I don't have my Fireworks quilt to display.  No problem.   It will be ready for next year, though!

Hope everyone has a Happy July 4th!

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