Market Bags

I turned my final grades in on Saturday and now I’m taking this week off completely before I start all of my summer work. I’m not very good at deliberately taking time off, so I’m fighting the impulse to make myself a big to-do list for the week. So far, I’ve been sitting on the couch knitting, and I’ve managed to get to Raku Week in the most recent season of The Great Pottery Throw Down and finish up a sweater that I’ve had on the go for awhile. (I’ll share that in a bit once I’ve had a chance to block it.)

Last week, I had some training stuff to sit through, which gave me the chance to finish up my April crochet project—these two color-blocked market bags. I used a free pattern I found on Ravelry and some basic kitchen cotton from JoAnn’s, and now I have two new bags that have solved my ongoing issue of having to drag a weird pile of loose sheets and blankets in and out of school each week to get Jude and Silas’s nap stuff washed over the weekend. They also got lots of compliments from the teachers at school, so this might be a nice gift project. The pattern itself was very simple. The bottom and the top are just worked in single crochet and the mesh is an easy combo of chains and double crochet.

I took on this challenge of making a new crochet project every month on a whim, but I’m really enjoying it. I’ve known how to crochet for about as long as I’ve known how to knit, but I’ve done it so erratically that I usually have to look up tutorials to remind myself how to do very basic things. So taking up a new project each month is definitely helping to cement some of those skills, while also introducing me to new stitches and techniques and helping me develop a more even and desirable tension.

But there’s creative value to the challenge too, in that it’s helping me explore some of the possibilities of crochet. It’s an opportunity to explore what kinds of projects I like crocheting, a chance to discover new-to-me designers, and a way to develop a clearer sense of where and when I might prefer crochet or knitting for a specific type of project. I think I had also gotten to a place with knitting where I was stuck in a bit of a rut making the same kinds of things with the same kinds of yarns but not feeling particularly excited about any of it. Doing more crochet feels like it’s shaken something loose for me and helped me look at knitting again with fresher eyes and start to envision plans that feel more exciting while still feeling true to the kind of maker I am.

Anyway. I’m excited to see where the next eight months of crochet projects takes me—I don’t really plan them out in advance so I really don’t know month to month what I might end up doing. That’s part of the fun.

Project Details:

Pattern – Color Block Market Bag by Jenn Palmer

Yarn – Lily Sugar’n Cream in Ecru, Red, and Teal

Hook – H

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Crocheted Friends

I’ve been feeling very drawn to crochet lately. It started when Jude’s only winter hat got left behind in his cubby at daycare during one of the interminable school shutdowns in January. I needed a new one fast and had no desire to go shopping for one, so I pulled out some leftover yarn and looked up a free pattern and had a new hat for him in two days.

It was fun and satisfying and suddenly I was searching Instagram for crochet accounts and discovering all kinds of new designers and coming up with all kinds of ideas for things I could try making. I taught myself the basics of crochet right around the same time I started knitting, but I didn’t do anything with it because I found it really difficult. Then several years later, I stumbled on just the right series of video tutorials (I cannot remember for the life of me who made them) and it clicked and I’ve made the occasional project since then. But it’s never something I’ve done enough to feel like I can get into a good rhythm or to feel like I was ever advancing my skills. So I decided it might be fun to try a new crochet project each month and just see where it takes me.

So far, I’ve made the hat for Jude in January, started a fingering-weight cowl in February that’s going to take me awhile to finish, and then made two different toys in March. The first was this little blue bunny for Silas to take to school with him for naptime. The bunny’s head and tail are stuffed but his body is unstuffed and crocheted at a more relaxed gauge so it is kind of a stuffy/blanket hybrid, which I thought was really cute. I found that designer for that pattern on Instagram, and her account led me to the second pattern I made—this little stuffed hippo.

Both projects are made with Bernat Blanket, which is a plush, fuzzy super-bulky yarn sold at most big box stores (I got mine from JoAnn’s). I have a pretty limited range of yarns that I tend to order online for knitting projects, so looking at crochet patterns has me exploring a whole new range of yarn offerings and it’s just kind of fun to see what is available and play around with stuff I wouldn’t otherwise have used. Crochet also has me seeing a whole new range of possibilities in my yarn stash, which is primarily made up of leftover yarns from past projects. The cowl I’m making is actually a color-blocked cowl from a selection of single-ply fingering weight yarns I have laying around but haven’t been sure what to do with.

I’ve been knitting for a long time (almost 20 years now), and I feel a bit bored with it at the moment. I was listening to a couple of Seamwork Radio episodes recently where Sarai and Haley were talking about ways to fall back in love with sewing when you’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s got me thinking through some ideas for ways I can rekindle the joy in knitting. But I think the appeal of crochet is related to that desire to rediscover the joy in fiber arts—it’s giving me the joy of learning new things and experimenting, and it’s helping me see and experience yarn in new ways.

Project Details:

HatUnlimited Hat Pattern from Kristin Holloway Designs in Cascade 220 Superwash in Aporto

BunnyHoney Bunny Pattern from Mama Made Minis in Bernat Blanket in Dusty Blue and Antique White. (I made the smaller of the two sizes.)

HippoHallie the Hippo Pattern from My Dear Knot in Bernat Blanket in Blush Pink

Socks, Scarves, and Kitties

A busy end of the semester meant lots of stress knitting and now a backlog of yarn-related projects.

Estuary Scarf

First up is Estuary, which I knit up in Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Blackberry. Estuary is a free lace scarf pattern from the Fall 2012 issue of Knitty. The pattern makes use of two different lace patterns that run alongside one another, which makes for interesting knitting–neither pattern is easy to memorize, especially since you are often increasing or decreasing the size of the scarf through the pattern. The pattern has something like 8 different lace charts, and I definitely had to pay close attention to the charts almost the whole time I was knitting. But I’ve been looking for more challenging patterns, so I enjoyed working on this project.

Estuary Scarf

There is some errata for this pattern. Most of the corrections have been made on the version of the pattern that appears on Knitty, but there was still a point or two where I was confused. The designer actually provides a clearer explanation of the errata in the comments on the Ravelry pattern page.

Estuary Scarf

I ended up doing an extra repeat of Chart E to make the scarf a bit longer and deeper. My finished scarf is about 82″ long and about 16.5″ wide. I didn’t block this very aggressively (primarily because I was feeling too lazy to pin out the lace). If I had pinned it out, I’m sure it would have ended up a few inches deeper. I’m really pleased with the shape and the size of the scarf, and very happy to have this in my closet.

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After I knit up Estuary, I went ahead and finished up a pair of socks that I started at the beginning of this year. This is Glenna C’s A Nice Ribbed Sock Pattern, which is another free pattern for a top-down 3×1 ribbed sock. The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Raven.

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I love these socks. Purple is clearly my color right now. Not only are these socks and my Estuary scarf purple, but my Onyx Shirt and Camas Blouse are both in a sort of reddish-purple.

Dumpling Kitty

My last project is probably one of the cutest things I’ve made. This is the Dumpling Kitty pattern, which is a free crochet pattern that was posted on Ravelry recently. It’s so cute and requires such a small amount of yarn that I had to make it when I saw the pattern. The gray yarn is leftover from my Madigan pullover and the white is leftover from the stockings I made my nephews for Christmas.

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I’ve been able to manage the basics of crochet for about the same amount of time that I’ve been knitting, but I crochet so rarely that I’m definitely still a crochet beginner. But I found this pattern very easy to follow, and I’m really happy with the finished project. I have no idea what I’m actually going to do with it–maybe use it as a pin cushion? Or maybe it will just continue to live on the bookshelf.

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I enjoyed my Dumpling Kitty crochet experience so much that I actually pulled some yarn out of the stash and started crocheting a blanket just for fun. I like the experience and process of crocheting, but I never really know what to make. So I figured I would just match some yarn to a pattern and then find someone to give it to when it’s done. This is Vickie Howell’s Chevy Baby Blanket, which is yet another free pattern. (I swear I usually pay for patterns.) The yarn is Lion Brand Heartland in Glacier Bay. This pattern is very easy for a crochet novice like me, and I feel like working on a larger project like this is really helping me work on getting a more even tension. I’ve been on the lookout for other crochet projects to take on when this is done, so who knows where this new interest in crochet might lead.