Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gramma's blankets

My great-grandmother used to make the most wonderful afghans. I inherited her crochet hooks, actually, when she died, but she didn't teach me how to make the blankets. We weren't close. At all. To be honest, I inherited her hooks from my grandmother, who gave them to me mostly because she didn't want them. But still - my great grandmother's hooks. They're the awesome steel kind. Most of them are little lace-making hooks, utterly useless to me since I don't have anything like enough patience to make lace things, but a few of them are big enough to make other things. Say, blankets.

Recently, someone gave me some yarn. Yeah. Enough yarn to make a pyramid. That's not all of the yarn, actually; I didn't include half-skeins because they were too floppy to support the pyramid. But anyway. I got some yarn from a lady at my church. And I thought, what the heck am I going to DO with all of this yarn?! As I've stated in previous posts, I live in a dorm! I don't even have enough room for the yarn I already have!

So, my yarn pyramid will stay at home, and while I'm home over breaks, I'm going to try and make blankets like great-grandma used to.

Before I jump in with this, let me say, I'm NERVOUS. These blankets (I think we have something like ten or twelve of the ones great-grandma made) are precious to my family. They're the closet thing we have to family heirlooms. The dog isn't allowed to touch these blankets for fear that she'll chew them up and/or get hair all over them. And now it's my turn. To possibly make something that my great-grandchildren will one day treasure and not let their dog sleep on.

Oh boy.

I've decided, for the first blanket, to use the variegated blue and the off-white. (Red Heart "Ocean" and Red Heart "Aran".) I'm using an H hook and the pattern my mother wrote down for me.

Here's the pattern I'm working off of:

Chain however many you like, depending on how long you want the blanket. 44 is a good number. Make two dc stitches in the fourth chain from the hook. Chain one time. Make three dc stitches in the next chain. Chain one. Make three dc stitches in the next chain, and so on until the last chain. Make four clusters in the last chain. Work around the back side of the chain with clusters in the spaces. Make a slip stitch into the top of the first cluster.

Chain three and make two dc stitches in the same space. Make two clusters in the next space. Make one cluster in the next space and two in the one after that. Make one cluster in each space down to the corner. Make two clusters between the first and second clusters of the corner. Make one cluster in the next space and two in each of the next two spaces. 

For future corners, make two clusters between the two clusters of the previous corner.

Clearly, my mother is not a pattern writer.

Did I already say "Oh Boy"?

Alright, the first instruction is easy enough. So let's get started!

Great-grandmother always did at least two colors, and usually a stripe of some kind. I thought I would do the middle section in blue, then a thick stripe of off-white, then another, thinner stripe, again in blue. I don't know how many rows of each I should use... I don't know how much yarn this is going to take, either. I've never seen anything but the finished blanket before, except for the tiny part my mom made when she was telling me how to do it. I'm flying by the seat of my pants.

1: 2 dc in fourth ch from hook. (ch1, 3dc) ea to last.

Right... well... I'm four clusters in and this thing is curving around itself in a spiral already! I'm really sure it's not supposed to do that. But I refuse to freak out just yet; I'll wait and see what happens. Except... now I'm eight clusters in and I don't remember my mom's looking like this. I think she meant for me to skip a chain between each cluster.

1: 2dc in fourth ch from hook. (ch1, 3dc) ea to last. 4 (ch1, 3dc) last. (ch1, 3dc) shall now be known as "cluster". 1 cluster in the ch sp along the back side.

Okay. Now I'm just about ready to join, except that... I don't have enough clusters in the very first chain. I misread mom's instructions and now I have to go back and do it all again! Also, skipping one chain between clusters looked strange... I'm still going to go with it and see if it will straighten itself out. For now, back to the beginning.

1: 2dc in fourth ch from hook. 3 clusters same st. (sk 1 ch, cluster in next) until last. 4 clusters in last. 1 cluster in each ch sp along the back side. Join to top of ch3.

And, uh, yeah. Still doesn't look anything like correct. So I asked my mom and guess what? The first row doesn't have clusters! Well then! Let's start over.

1: 2dc fourth ch from hook. (ch1. dc 3.) to last, do not skip any ch. 4 clusters last ch. (ch1, dc 3) to last. 3 clusters same ch as beginning. sl st to join. sl st 2 to next chsp.
2: 2 clusters in that chsp. 1 cluster next. 2 clusters next. 1 cluster each to last 4 in row 1. 2 clusters, 1 cluster, 2 clusters. 1 cluster ea back. sl st to join.
3: for all future rows, 1 cluster ea ch sp. For corners, 2 clusters between the 2 clusters of previous corner.

There! Now... just go. And go. And go. Until it's big enough or you run out of yarn.

Well, the pattern is figured out now! I'll have another blog post with my progress eventually.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Ugly (but useful) Hanging Bag

Well, I live in a dorm room and we don't have much storage space on the floor. We have four of those awesome stackable crates, and two of the standing three-drawer bins, but somehow we still seem to be out of space. And how does that work, anyway?

I've decided that what I need to do to clear up some space is to make myself a big old hanging bag to store my yarn (which is currently taking up two crates) in. To that end, I'm using the color I have most of, which is currently the ball of magenta I bought on a whim and never got around to using.

My plan for this is pretty simple:  an open-work bag, with smaller holes at the bottom than the top but not by much. I want two loops on one side from which to hang the bag on 3M hooks, and a button closure.

So here we go!

The first thing I'm going to try is 18 dc in a circle, increased quickly and then more slowly.

mc 18 dc
2: ch4, sk 1, (dc ch1) ea
3: ch4, (dc, ch1) first, 2(dc, ch1) ea
4: ch4, (dc, ch1) first, (dc, ch1) next, 2-1

And, actually, this is boring me a little bit, so I'm going to try something else! The sweater I'm making has a really cool pattern which isn't very hard to do, so I'm going to try and adapt that.

mc 18 dc
2: ch7. sk1, sc next 2. repeat around. sl st under first ch, turn.

And here I've come to a problem... The join on the pattern I'm adapting actually forms one of the ch loops. So I need to figure out how to get the last st at the top of a ch loop.

2: *sc 2. ch7, sk 1* to last sc. for join, ch3, tr into first sc. ch1.
3: sc3 first ch loop, (sc3, sc7, sc3, sc7, sc3) ea ch loop to first/last. (sc3, ch7, sc 3, ch3, tr in first sc)

Well, the holes are just a little big for my liking, so I'm going to go back and cut out the skipped stitches. I'm also going to decrease the chaining by one. Since the holes will be smaller, the third row will have to have less stitches.

2: *sc2, ch6* to last 2 sc. sc 2, ch3, tr into first sc.
3: sc3 first ch loop, (sc 2, ch 6, sc 2, ch 6, sc 2) ea ch loop to first/last. (sc 2, ch6, sc 2, ch6, sc2)
4. sc3 first ch loop, ch6, (sc3, ch6, sc3, ch6) ea ch loop to first/last. (sc3, ch6, sc3, sc3, tr in first sc)

.... And that's too quick an increase. It's making the shape warp in funny ways. To solve that, no problem, just insert a row without increase.

4: sc3 first ch loop, (sc 3, ch 6, sc 3) ea ch loop to first/last. (sc 3, ch 3, tr in first sc)
5: sc3 first ch loop, ch4. (sc 3, ch6, sc3, ch4) ea ch loop to first/last. (sc 3, ch2, tr in first sc)
6: sc3 first ch loop, ch1, (sc 3, ch6, sc 3, ch1) ea ch loop to first/last (sc 3, ch2, tr in first)

And um... halfway through, I decided I don't like this pattern anymore. I'm going back to the one I said was boring. This is just taking forever! So back to the first pattern.

mc 18 dc
2: ch4, sk 1, (dc ch1) ea
3: ch4, (dc, ch1) first, 2(dc, ch1) ea
4: (dc, ch1) ea
5: ch4, (dc, ch1) first, (dc, ch1) next, 2-1

This one is still curling, so I'm going to insert another row of no-increase between four and five.

4: (dc, ch1) ea
4 5
6: ch4, (dc, ch1) first, (dc, ch1) next, 2-1

Okay, that's much better. Note to self:  two rows between increase rows. I have 54 ch sp right now; that looks like enough for me, so  I also want to slowly start making the holes bigger. I'm going to begin by increasing from ch1 to ch2, and eventually work my way up to (I think) tr, ch3.

7: (dc, ch1) ea
8: (dc, ch2) ea
8 9 10 11 12

So, at this point, the bag is still a circle (not beginning to start vertically yet). It's also a lot bigger than I thought it would be! Unfortunately, that means I'm going to have to rip out a lot of stitches and go back to row 5. I'm going to increase row six by 9 st instead of 18. I currently have 36 ch sp, and I want 45. I need to increase to 5 for every 4 of the previous row, which means 3 st between increases.

Also, I've decided that I want it to have a sloped bottom, not just a circle, so I need to insert more rows between increases. So! Back to the beginning, I'm afraid to say. I may as well not trouble myself with increasing 18 every row. I'm going to increase 9 instead. It means more increase rows, but might be better for the shape I want.

3: ch4. (dc, ch1) first 2. 2-1 (27)
4: (dc, ch1) ea
5: ch4. (dc, ch1) first 3. 2-2 (36)
6: (dc, ch1) ea
6 7
8: ch4, (dc, ch1) first 4, 2-3 (45)
9: (dc, ch1) ea.
9 10 11
12: ch4, (dc, ch1) first 5, 2-4 (54)
13: ch5, (tr, ch1) ea.
13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

At this point, I'm out of the magenta I've been using, so I'll switch to maroon.  It's looking a good shape - nice and spacious - so I think I'll use the maroon to finish it out.

24: sc ea ch sp and tr.
25: sc ea (108)

Alright... I want five straps total, three of them with buttonholes. I want four of them evenly spaced (26 st apart) and the last one between two of the other straps. I think I know how to do this. Let's see.

26: sc 12, ch 11. (sc10, sl st 2 of bag, sc 7, ch2 sk 2, sc last. ch1 turn, sc 10.) sc 12......

Okay, now I'm confused. Let's try this again:  the bag has 108 st. Each of the four long straps will take up 2 st, so that means 24 st between them. The small fastener strap will also take 2 st, and I want it centered between two straps. That means there will need to be 11 st between each strap and the edge of the fasten strap. Okay. And the four main straps will be varied length:  the two front ones shorter, the two back ones longer, and the fasten strap between the two longer back straps. The two front straps will have buttonholes; the two back ones will not.

26: (ch19. sc 18. sl st 2 into bag rim. sc 14. ch3, sk 3, sc 1. ch1, turn. sc 18.) sc 24. Repeat ( to ). sc 24. *ch53, sc 52, sl st 2 into bag rim, sc 52, ch1 turn, sc 52* sc 11, (ch10, sc 9, sl st 2 into bag rim, sc 6, ch2sk2, sc last. ch1, turn, sc 9). sc 11. Repeat * to *. and sc to end. fasten off.

Right-o! That looks good. Now just sew on some buttons, wherever you want really, and it's done. I'm too lazy to go track down three matching buttons, so I'm just going to use some leftover scraps of magenta to just make some circles.

Easy enough. G hook, worsted weight yarn. Make at least three, or however many you want.
mc 8 hdc
2: 2-1 sc (12). fasten off.

In the end, it isn't a pretty bag, but it's going to be useful! And hey, I finally got rid of all that ugly magenta.