Sunday, 26 July 2015

Knitting, Crocheting, Cooking and Vacuum Cleaners

Aside from yesterday's devotional, I realized it's been over two months since I last posted on my blog. So this may be a long update. I'll start with vacuum cleaners. In order to take some of the pictures for today's post, I wanted to vacuum the carpet first. With two cats in the house, one of which is long-haired, cat fur accumulates rapidly in my house. However, when I started the vacuum cleaner up, it was leaving most of the fluff behind. I also noticed a peculiar "whine" to the motor and the smell of burnt rubber. I turned the vacuum cleaner off and checked all of the extension wands for plugs: nothing. Then I remembered that the last time I had used the power head, I had problems with it and determined to take it apart and clean out all of the "stuff" wrapped around the roller. I hadn't done that yet. So I got my tool kit, sat down on the floor and took the power head apart. Yuk! What a mess of dirt, hair, cat fur, thread, yarn, tinsel, whatever! The dirt was caked on so thick that I was scraping it off with a flathead screwdriver and I was still not getting it all off. I finally resorted to spraying it with Fantastik and got it relatively clean with that. I didn't even know that there were instructions for changing the belt embossed on the inside of the top until I got it clean enough to see them. I was calculating and figure I've likely had that vacuum cleaner for about 8-1/2 years. And I've never taken the powerhead apart. I'm not sure where the instructions are for it, but I don't remember reading anything about taking the powerhead apart regularly to clean it. I guess I'll have to add that to my spring cleaning tasks. Hmm, just remembered that I've got a powerhead on my central vac as well. I probably should take that one apart too... And, in case you're wondering why I have both a canister vac and a central vac - I had the canister vac before I bought my house and the central vac came with the house. The central vac is really old, though it still works, and I just seem to alternate between the two of them. And currently the central vac is "out of commision" as I have taken the cannister off to get behind it to finish the drywall. It's in the sewing area of my basement, which I'm supposed to be renovating. 
And on the topic of the renovations - not much progress there. I just find it very difficult to work full time, cook, clean, maintain the yard, pursue my hobbies and complete renovations. And I'm a little bit intimidated about doing the flooring myself. So I have determined to get an estimate or two to see if I can afford to pay someone else to get it done. I'm really getting tired of not being able to quilt and having all of my supplies stacked in the living room. Kind of puts a damper on having company: "Just pull up a box of fabric and have a seat."
On the crafting front, June's "Learn a Stitch, Make this Cowl" was the Le Papillon Cowl. I'm not sure what "Le Papillon" has to do with it because I do not really see anything reminiscent of a butterfly in the cowl. I bought the suggested Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable yarn and began the cowl.
It really wasn't going well. And I have decided that I really don't like this yarn. While it comes in beautiful colours, it is not fun to work with. It's marked as a 4 weight, but it's unevenly spun and there are long sections where it's probably only a 2 weight between slubs of 4 weight. It also has a bit of a nap (I know that's a fabric word, but I don't know what to call it in yarn) which makes it really difficult to frog, and I ended up breaking it at least 3 times as you can see in the picture above. I'd had enough. 
And I'm puzzled. Red Heart has so many different yarns, so I don't know why they would choose to use the same yarn in more than one cowl. March's Lovable Cowl was also made with Unforgettable yarn. I had problems with that one, too, but I blamed that on my knitting skills. And both January's and April's cowls called for Medley, though I didn't use it for April's. And I decided not to use Unforgettable for June's either. I bought a skein of Super Saver in Monet and proceeded with that. 
Meanwhile I was having issues with the pattern.
I really didn't like the way the pattern said to do the bobbles. You end up with 11 loops on the hook and then have to yarn over and draw through all 11 loops. That is an awful lot of loops to get your hook through. I tried it and ended up with what looked like messy balls of yarn. You can see that in the Unforgettable yarn in the foreground of the picture above. Not only did I not like the look of it, but I thought all of those loose loops of yarn would be easy to get caught on something. So I decided to do the traditional bobble stitch with the Super Saver yarn, as you can see above, and I'm much happier with it. 
And here's the final product:
Super Saver was much easier to work with than Unforgettable. And I love the Monet. And here I am trying it on:
I also made progress on my grandson's cardigan:
This is the left front and I've still got a lot of ends to work in, as you can see. I've got the right front done to just below where the picture starts. His birthday is August 30, and I'm hoping to have it done by then. It's the first time I've tried Intarsia knitting and I'm not unhappy with how it's turning out. 
Also for my grandson's birthday is the Choo-Choo Train Afghan.
No choo-choo train on it yet, however, but the main body of the afghan is finished. I have to finish adding the fringe on each end, then crochet the train cars and stitch them on. You can see how little space I had to spread it out because of all the sewing room clutter in my living room.
You'll remember that I've been working on the Vivaldi throw. Here it is to date:
Still a long way from being finished. And it needs to be done by August 16th. I had a friend offer to buy this one from me, and I told her that I don't sell my projects, but I kept the fact that she liked this one in the back of my mind. I didn't have a recipient in mind for it when I started, but when I found out this same friend is celebrating her 50th anniversary this year, I knew who the recipient would be.
One Sabbath morning when my daughter and grandson were visiting, my daughter was wearing a sundress for church. As it is usually a little chilly in the mornings, I asked if she wanted a wrap. But most of my wraps were more for winter and she said that they were all too heavy. I ended up giving her a large muslin scarf, but said that I would need to make her a lighter weight cotton wrap. I later bought some Bernat Handicrafter Cotton in Lotus Blossom, but needed to find an appropriate pattern. As it is intended to be a summer wrap, I did not want a very densely crocheted pattern. It's not that I don't have patterns at home, but decided to look at what was available while I was at Walmart.  I found the summer issue of Crochet! Magazine, which had 3 wraps in it, none of which were done in 4 weight. But it's just a wrap, so I figured I could adjust the pattern. I really love the Feileacan Shawl, which has Celtic knot butterflies down the back. The pattern calls for a 2 weight yarn and so I decided to try the butterfly to see if it looked acceptable in 4 weight. I was happy with it and proceeded to make the right half of the shawl.
This is the completed right half of the shawl and the one butterfly. I haven't finished sewing the butterfly yet. I actually completed the whole right half following the pattern, but it ended up being much too long in the back, so I frogged enough rows to eliminate one butterfly down the back. Or was it two? Anyway, not all of the pattern was working to my liking - the rows weren't lining up the way they should. So I made my own alterations, but don't ask me now what they were. Hopefully I can remember them when I complete the left half. The Ravelry link that gives pattern corrections (but not the ones I wanted) can be found here. There are supposed to be beads added along the bottom edge of the shawl, but I haven't decided if I'm going to add them or not. The only ones I found that were the right size with a big enough bore hole are silver and I'm not sure if that's the best colour for this yarn. Besides leaning back against beads on a wooden pew might be rather uncomfortable. Feileacan, by the way, is Irish for butterfly. This is the first time I've attempted a crochet pattern with a rating of 6 (challenging). My daughter's birthday is September 5th, so I hope to have it finished by then.
July's cowl is the Love this Lacy Cowl. It's a knitted pattern and just emphasizes the reason why I prefer crocheting over knitting. Somehow I got my stitches out of order and the pattern doesn't line up like it should. But frogging when you're knitting is more trouble than it's worth. So I've left the mistakes in there and figure it will still be pretty. Just not perfect.
The pattern called for Red Heart Sparkle Soft, but I'm using Bernat Satin Sparkle in coral. I generally go with what I like that's available locally in the appropriate guage. I can't always make a trip to the city and don't necessarily want to have to pay for shipping if I order online. It's less than half finished and, by next weekend, the August cowl pattern will be available. For a pattern that's rated "easy," I'm not really finding it so. It will likely have to be set aside until September as it's intended for a Christmas present, whereas the above 4 projects have more imminent deadlines. However, my vacation starts Friday, July 31, and I'm hoping to get at least the Vivaldi throw finished during that time. I can't afford to go anywhere, especially if I end up paying someone to complete my renovations, but will hopefully get some serious crafting time in. 
July 31st is also the 7th anniversary of my divorce. Maybe I should do something to celebrate!
Meanwhile I actually had time to do some real cooking this week. By "real cooking" I mean more than just boiling some pasta and pouring on some sauce from a jar. I made Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Burritos. The filling is made overnight in a crockpot.
Yummy! This is from one of my new favourite cookbooks.

This cookbook is perfect for me. I love slow cookers and the recipes are for one or two people. 
Now it's time for lunch. I have a lawn to mow and a handyman to find who can give me an estimate on my renovations. Not to mention a powerhead to put back together now that it's had a chance to dry out after cleaning. So that's all for now.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Taking a Rock to Church

This morning I took a rock to church. 

No, I wasn't planning on stoning someone. <grin> I was supposed to be giving the children's story during the church service and it was one of the illustrations for my story. During Sabbath School, however, one of the church members became ill and I, being a nurse, was called upon to render my services. I don't think a nurse was required, but when one is ill, somehow having a nurse nearby is a comforting thought to many. So I ended up being otherwise occupied during the church service and asked my niece to substitute for me as a last minute stand-in for the children's story. Which she did willingly. And my rock just sat abandoned on my pew until I could retrieve it after the church service when the ailing church member was taken home by her husband. 
It seems altogether too often that things don't go as we hoped, planned or dreamed. As the poet Robert Burns said,
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley. [often go awry

And while not being able to use my rock for children's story was of no great consequence, there are many unachieved goals that are far more significant. I can look back over my own life and acknowledge that I've had my share of crushed dreams, disppointed hopes and derailed plans. As a prime example, when I was walking down the aisle nearly 29 years ago, I planned on a life of wedded bliss, not the frequently miserable existence of emotional abuse into which it devolved. Life holds many surprises, not all of them pleasant. Along life's road are many forks, detours and hairpin curves. And sometimes, it's difficult not to lose our way. But we have the assurance when our lives seem to get off track, 
If you stray to the right or the left, you will hear a word that comes from behind you: “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 CEB
Our heavenly Father knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) and He has a plan for each one of our lives. And even when life seems to be taking us through a detour, He knows how to get us back to the right road. We have His promise:
We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 CEB
Even when we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel and question whether there actually is an end to the tunnel, we know that He is there with us in the darkness.
For Thou art my lamp, O Lord; and the Lord will lighten my darkness. 2 Samuel 22:29
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
So when life forces us off the road at a hairpin curve, He will give us strength to get back on the road and keep on going.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 NKJV
My life has definitely not been perfect. No, far from it. But as John Newton said, "Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."

Monday, 18 May 2015

Hook & Needle News - 18/05/15

Remember that I've been looking for a project in which to use Red Heart Super Saver blacklight yarn? Well, I decided to google it, and I found this scarf using Argyle Crochet and I was fascinated. I had never seen or heard of this technique before. And I decided to buy the Kindle book and give it a try. Here's the link to the book:

The book suggests that you try several swatches to practice before actually tackling a project. Here's my first attempt:
I added a scalloped edging and decided to use it as a pot holder/trivet. 
By the way, my plans are to make an afghan out of the blacklight yarn, using Argyle Crochet. I'm just hoping I'll have enough. The book says that you should make sure to use all one dye lot as the length of each colour can vary between dye lots. I've had to shop around at different Walmarts to find what I could of the same dye lot. And since this technique is done in single crochet, I'm sure it will take a lot of yarn. I currently have 7 skeins plus what's left over from making the Drop Stitch Cowl. I may have to try another Walmart or two. 
Here's the Drop Stitch Cowl:

Here's where I'm at with the Vivaldi Throw:
I've also started on the Choo-Choo Train Afghan for my grandson:
The main body of the afghan should work up quite quickly as it's double strands of knitting worsted using a 10.0 mm hook.  Then I have to add fringe and crochet and applique the trains.
I haven't made any progress on the Crystal Roses afghan or Sophie's Universe. But I have made progress on my basement crafting studio. I have finished the drywall taping and cornerbead and one coat of mud to all places that required it (and lots of places that didn't). I just have to wait for the mud to dry so I can sand and apply the next layer. However, now that nice weather is here, it's time to do some yard work. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

"Cover Girls"

"Toilet paper dolls" is a rather unflattering moniker. Also a bit misleading since it almost makes it sound like the dolls are made of toilet paper. "Toilet paper cover dolls" is rather cumbersome. So, I've opted to nickname them "cover girls." Here's my first one:
I remember these from my childhood, but I can't honestly say it is with fondness or even nostalgia. My mother never had them in the house. With 7 children, we probably went through so much toilet paper that one of these dolls would be more trouble than it was worth. And most of them from my childhood looked more like this: 
The dolls weren't particularly attractive and they weren't very successful at hiding what they were supposed to be hiding under their incredibly cylindrical dresses. So I really hadn't had a desire to own or create one of these. Until a few years ago I acquired some patterns for them along with some other crocheting paraphernalia I got at a yard sale. And for me it was a new challenge. And recently I decided to take up that challenge. Finding a couple of Skipper-sized dolls at the thrift store, I knew they were the same height as the dolls used for this purpose and decided to see if they would work. 
The patterns actually called for worsted weight yarn. I felt that was quite bulky for such a small doll and considered using sport weight, but the local selection is pretty slim. So I opted to use Red Heart Soft Touch, which is one of the lightest worsted weight available at our Walmart. The only lighter one is Red Heart Unforgettable, but I didn't want a variegated yarn for this project. I also went down a hook size from the recommended 3.75 to a 3.50.
Before I go any further, I want to tell you how I compare yarns. I use metres per gram. I look on the label and find the number of metres and the number of grams and divide. For example, Red Heart Comfort solids have 792 metres in a 454 gram ball. That yields 1.74 metres per gram. Soft Touch is 1.9 and Unforgettable is 2.56. The higher the number, the ligther or finer the yarn. It's a handy index to have when substituting or combining yarns in a project, especially a project where guage is very important. 
So, I began to crochet, but had to make adjustments as anything in the Barbie family is quite a bit more shapely than the original toilet paper dolls. However, increasing and decreasing left too many openings where the doll's "flesh" showed through. I wasn't very happy about this. And as the skirt got longer, the weight of it pulled on these openings and made them bigger. And then, somehow the skirt was a little overwhelming for this tiny doll:
I do believe that there's a lot more "give" to this yarn than some other worsted weights, such as Red Heart Comfort, and as I started adding ruffles, the increased weight just seemed to pull the dress longer and longer. By this time, I had decided that Barbie was going to work better for this dress than the Skipper-sized doll and tried her out in the dress. Actually, at first I tried a doll called Darci, who is about an inch taller than Barbie. No, that's not going to work. She is too tall and risked topping over into the toilet bowl. Definitely not what I wanted to happen after putting all that work into this dress. So, then Barbie tried the dress on and she's pretty steady in her toilet paper stand and hopefully won't go for a dip. 
Unfortunately, with all that extra weight in the skirt, the armhole openings were stretched almost to Barbie's waist, so I had to do some more modifications. I crocheted some additional stitches under the arms and darned the openings around the waist. Still, there was a little too much Barbie showing through, so I crocheted her some black panties. The trim was supposed to be lace, but I was not about to handstitch yards of lace onto this dress. So I added the border in double strands of a 2-weight sparkle and sequin yarn (Loops and Threads Payette yarn from Michael's). I chose beige as the bathroom where she now resides is done in black and beige. 
I wasn't sure if I was going to make the hat or not. As I had yarn left over, I decided to give it a try. I greatly digressed from the pattern as Barbie's head is a lot smaller then the toilet tissue doll's. I'm not sure if I like it or not. I have to admit, however, that I think Barbie looks much better than the toilet tissue doll. Not only is she a prettier doll, but it's not so obvious that she's hiding toilet paper. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Hook & Needle News 03/05/15

Honestly, I really need to quit starting new projects until I finish more of the ones I'm currently working on...
Blacklight yarn: yes, I thought I'd found the project I wanted to create. I had gathered various skeins of yarn that went well with it. Then I picked up Crochet World Blue Ribbon Crochet and decided to use my blacklight collection to create the Vivaldi Throw. It actually calls for 3/dk/sport weight yarn, whereas my collection is 4/worsted/aran weight, but that would just mean I'd have a bigger afghan in these awesome colours. I was impatient to see how it looked and so, never mind how many other WIPs I already have, I began. I planned on using the blacklight as the main colour in the diamond motifs. But, while the floral motifs looked great in the yarns I had selected, somehow the blacklight wasnt' looking right. 
Beginning of Vivaldi Throw with Diamond Motifs done in Blacklight/Black

Close-up of  diamond motif done in blacklight/black
They just looked messy. So I tried one in all blacklight.
Close-up of diamond motif done in all blacklight
Then I tried reversing it, black for rounds 1 & 3, and blacklight for round 2.
Decisions, decisions...
No, the black is too stark and the blacklight is too messy-looking. None of these options were really cutting it for me. I posted pictures to facebook and google+ and most opinions were that the blacklight wasn't quite right. A couple of people suggested brown. Well, brown is about my least favourite colour. Someone else suggested a paler neutral, and I thought ivory might work. And since I didn't already have purple in this afghan, I decided to use that as the accent colour. I went to Walmart, and didn't really want the amethyst that they have in the Red Heart Super Saver. So I ended up having to buy Red Heart Soft Touch. It's a 4-weight, but definitely lighter than the Super Saver or Comfort that comprise the rest of the yarn in this afghan. The ivory (actually the colour is called Aran) is Super Saver. 
That's better, but still not quite the look I want, so I reversed the colours.
And finally, I"m happy with this look. This is what I've got done so far:
I took it out to my side yard for a couple of pictures.
And yes, I'm quite pleased with the purple/ivory diamond motifs.
But that still left me without a project for the blacklight yarn. Then with the new month came the next cowl in Red Heart's monthly, "Learn a Stitch, Make This Cowl." This month it's a knitted Drop Stitch Cowl and it calls for With Love yarn in beachy. That's a 4 weight yarn in a variegated colour. Perfect, because that's exactly what blacklight is. And I got started on that as well.
Last month's cowl was a crocheted drop stitch cowl, and I have to admit that I prefer the crocheted drop stitch over the knitted one, even if it was kind of awkward using a dowel! I find it's kind of sloppy working with the knitted drop stitch and, in this pattern, there are two regular knit stitches on each end to reinforce the edges on the drop stitch rows. That makes it shorter on the edges than it is in the middle. But the drop stitch itself is really not difficult to work. And I love this yarn. However, I'm not sure which of my cowl recipients is going to want such a loud cowl. LOL!
This cowl only calls for one ball of yarn and, of course I have several balls in blacklight, so I will still gladly find another project to use it in. I really like the way this argyle scarf works up in blacklight and have already purchased the author's book for her argyle technique. Since I love variegated yarn, I'm sure I'll find some great projects to do.
Of course, I'm not likely to be content making just a scarf out of blacklight. <smile>
And the next topic is toilet paper dolls. And no, I do not mean dolls made out of toilet paper. If you're old enough, you'll remember those dolls in fancy crocheted dresses that people used to have in the bathroom to hide an extra roll of toilet paper. Have you ever been in someone else's house, using "the facilities" and you suddenly realize that there's no toilet paper? None of us really want to snoop in someone else's cupboards. However, desparate times demand desparate measures. But what happens if you can't find the extra roll? Nothing like sitting on the toilet yelling out to your host, "I need some more toilet paper in here." Well, those little dolls solved that problem because you always knew where to find the extra roll. A couple of years ago, I purchased some knitting/crocheting supplies and patterns at a yard sale. And amongst this find were several patterns for toilet paper dolls. Or more correctly, the dresses they wore. So, I resolved to some day try to make one or two. Who knows? Maybe I'll bring back a trend. The biggest problem was finding the right doll. While I've seen it done with Barbies, I think they are actually too tall for a toilet paper roll to hold them stable enough. But I might give it a try if I find a decent pattern. I was able to find a 10" tissue paper doll online at Joann Fabric and Craft Store for $3.99. Unfortunately, their lowest shipping price to Canada is $9.95, so I'd have to want that doll very badly. Not to mention that those dolls are just not very attractive. So, I was storing the idea for future consideration. Until I was rummaging through the Barbies at a thrift store and found a couple in the Skipper size: 10".
It took me awhile to figure out who these dolls actually are. While they are both Mattel, they are not Skipper. After some assistance from a facebook crochet group, I found that the blonde one is Ashley Olsen. I had to google, however, to discover that the brunette is Gabriella from High School Musical. Not that that really matters since they're just going to be hiding toilet paper. Unfortunately, the build of these dolls is significantly different from the build of the typical toilet tissue dolls. The patterns I'm using are actually for a modified pillow doll. They call for knitting worsted which I think is a pretty heavy yarn for a doll of this size. I considered sport/3 weight but selection is very limited in my part of the universe. So I picked the lightest weight knitting worsted I could find, Red Heart Soft Touch, and used a 3.5 mm hook instead of the 3.75 that the pattern called for as I tend to crochet larger than guage. And I tried to make some modifications as I went along, particularly in the waist area as toilet tissue dolls are considerably thicker in the waist than anything in the Barbie line. Here's the project so far:
Not entirely happy with it. There's considerable "skin" showing through where I did the decreases for the waist. And the skirt is probably longer than it was supposed to be (kind of reminds me of the huge skirts worn by 'Anna' in The King and I, 1956), but overall, I'm reasonably pleased with it. I still need to crochet three more layers of ruffles on the skirt, plus put a couple of snaps on the back. The pattern says to sew up the back opening, but what if she wants to change clothes? There's also a hat to complete the outfit. I may attempt that, but again will require modifications as Darice's head (yes, the toilet tissue doll has a name, too) is quite a bit bigger than this doll's. Ashley, by the way, is posing on my vintage mauve toilet, which is in my main bath, but she is actually dressed for the basement bathroom, which is beige and black. She'll move down there once she's finished. 
I've finished a few more motifs for the Crystal Roses throw and one more row on Sophie's Universe, not significant enough accomplishments to post pictures. 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Hook & Needle News 15/04/15

I've been feeling very tired lately. Not sleeping well and having very vivid dreams. Not enough energy to do anything when I get home from work. Except crochet, of course. So, no further work done on the renovations. I know I should be exercising and maybe now that the weather's finally better, I'll be able to get out and walk. If only I could find shoes that would keep my feet from aching. A life-long problem for me...
So, I've finished Part 6 of Sophie's Universe.
It now measures about a metre across. Here's a close up:
Remember the Yarspirations CAL that I wasn't enjoying?
Well, I've seen people's almost finished product and I'm still not impressed, so I don't intend to finish this one. But what to do with all of that yarn? Someone had posted a link on facebook's Crafty Crochet Community to "A Blanket of Roses Afghan" pattern and I had saved the link to my favourites. I wasn't sure about doing it in aqua/teal, so decided to try a sample and see what I thought. So, I began. However, I was not really happy with the darker (bluer) yarn in the picture above. After I purchased the yarn for this CAL, Walmart got in a different colour, which is a darker teal, instead of the aqua and it actually blends with the variegated better than the aqua does. 
See what I mean? While the aqua may not look terrible, it doesn't look as awesome as the teal does. And it bugged me. But I didn't think I could justify spending the extra money on another ball of yarn and tearing all of the aqua out of the squares I had already completed. And what was I going to do with the aqua anyway if I didn't use it in this CAL? But when I decided to use the CAL yarn for a different project, and after starting with the aqua and not really liking it, I decided to also invest in the teal yarn. Here's my first motif:
A couple of people I shared this picture with said it reminded them of the movie, "Frozen." And I, too, thought it looked somewhat like a snowflake, so I'll probably call it something like Crystal Roses. Three hexagon motifs and one square done so far. And I'm loving this one much more than the CAL. Meanwhile I still have to decide what to do with all of these squares I started.
I have some ideas, but I'm going to wait till I finish the Crystal Roses and see how much yarn I have left over. But all of that layered aqua and white yarn has got to go... Yuk!
One day while perusing the yarn in Walmart, I discovered that they had some more blacklight yarn.
I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with it, but I bought this green to go along with it. Plus the aqua I'm not using in the Crystal Roses afghan blends with the blacklight as well. The big white ball is for the Crystal Roses afghan. Since white is the main colour in that afghan, but I wasn't planning on it being the main colour in the CAL, I needed more. 
I finished April's Drop Stitch Crochet Cowl from Red Heart's "Learn a Stitch, Make This Cowl" project. This cowl required a large 19 mm knitting needle to make the drop stitches. I don't have one and couldn't find one locally. And I was impatient to get started, so I went into Canadian Tire and bought a 19 mm dowel.
So I nicknamed this the "dowel cowl." Necessity is the mother of invention, as my mother said. And it worked!
Here's the finished product. It called for Red Heart Medley yarn, but I decided to use Bernat Big Ball Chunky in Intrigue instead. I really like this colour combo. And it was available at Walmart, so I didn't have to wait for an order. 
This is the first cowl not made in the round, so I had a seam to sew.
I was quite happy with how this stitch worked up.
Last evening, I went to Walmart craving something sweet. They still had some Easter goodies at 75% off, so I picked up a couple of items. Normally, I eat a very healthy diet. And I'm also trying to be more conscientous about my eating and lifestyle. And most chocolate is not something that can be eaten conscientously as it is produced using slavery, including child slavery. So, if your chocolate is not Fair Trade, it's not fair. So, I thought, "If I don't buy the chocolate, I can have some yarn." The yarn won. 
This will be the main colour in the Choo Choo Train afghan that I will make for my grandson. He loves this colour. And he loves trains. It's Red Heart Super Saver in flame.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Hook & Needle News 01/04/15

I see it's been nearly a month since I last posted and I have been busy. I posted previously that I am doing Red Heart's monthly "Learn a Stitch, Make this Cowl." I'm all caught up now. Here is January's Twisted Cowl, which is crocheted, and I actually finished it just last night.
This one was made with Red Heart Medley in Eclectic.

Since my goal had been to get back into knitting, I started with Candi's Checked Cowl for February and was quite pleased with the results. 
This was made with two strands of Red Heart Soft in Lavender.

March's Lovable Cowl was a bit more of a challenge for me. I really didn't like the appearance of this one as well as the other two.

But appearance wasn't the only issue. I kept losing count and made a lot of mistakes in this one. Fortunately, most of them are hidden under the rolled upper edge. Somehow mine ended up shorter and wider than the one in the picture with the pattern. But honestly, my count wasn't that far off and the number of rows is correct. <shrug>
I made this one out of Red Heart Unforgettable in Parrot. And every time I looked at the name of the yarn, I kept thinking of this song:

For April, it's a Drop Stitch Crochet Cowl, which is supposed to be made in Red Heart Medley again. I think I might try an alternate yarn. I enjoyed using the Medley in the Twisted Cowl, but I'd have to order it online or wait until I can get into the city as it's not available in town. And I want to try different yarns. Meanwhile, I'm continuing with Sophie's Universe CAL. I've finished to the end of Part 5.

In addition to the original colours I had chosen, I have added some Red Heart Super Saver in black, blue, cornmeal, hunter green and carrot. Aside from the tulips/leaves rounds, I decided to to rounds 33 through 46 in rainbow order. Only round 46 is left to be completed of the rainbow section, which will be the Lavender. Here's a close up showing all the colours.
Unfortunately, the purple (tulips and last round) looks more blue in this picture, at least on my monitor. And the hunter green (tulip leaves) appears almost black.
I've also gotten a little more work done on the Bavarian crochet scarf, but haven't taken a picture. 
That's my crochet progress to date. This evening I did a little taping and mudding in my craft studio in the basement. I need to get that finished as I've got quilting projects to get caught up on.