26 March 2017

Needlework: 2017 Progress Report

The last six months have been more productive than usual for me, as far as needlework goes. My former neighbor moved back to the area and we've been meeting regularly to keep each other encouraged as far as working on projects. I know that makes needlework sound like an obligation, but it isn't like that. In my case, I often sit around daydreaming about all the projects I want to complete while I'm playing iPad games and watching YouTube videos. Then I feel bad for letting another day/week/month pass by without doing anything productive. Knowing that I'll be meeting up with someone regularly to show off my progress has helped me reclaim some of that wasted time.

To add to that feeling of accomplishment, I thought I would resurrect this blog once again and start posting my progress. So here is my needlework progress report.

First up is my Retro Trek Pot Holder. I am using a free pattern by Ilana McDonald, and the yarn is Lily's Sugar N Cream. I don't make pot holders and dishcloths that often, but this one is stitched using the double knitting technique. There is a baby blanket that was knit by First Lady Lou Henry Hoover back in the 1930s that I have wanted to make since Knitty published the pattern in 2003, and it uses double knitting. I thought that it would be prudent to learn the technique on a smaller project first, and this one was ideal since ABM and I were Star Trek: TNG fans back in the 1980s.

I am halfway through and I must say, I will be glad to see the back of this project. The double knitting technique is simple enough, but working from a chart makes for slow going, at least for me. I'm never confident that I am getting my stitch count right so I am always counting and recounting. Not exactly mindless knitting, this. Still, I will be happy to have the finished object hanging in my kitchen. The fabric is cushy and thick and I think it will make a nice pot holder.


The other project I am actively working on is an afghan based on the cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender. The pattern I am using, a free pattern called Avatar: The Four Elements, consists of four giant squares that are then joined together and finished off with a border. I am using the charts and the suggested yarn listed, but I'm not using the same stitch pattern. What had happened was . . .

I have gone through a mini odyssey with this pattern! I ordered the yarn and started with the Water square (light blue and dark blue) around Aug 2015, following the pattern as written. It didn't take me long to realize that I didn't like carrying both yarns together all the way through; it felt like a waste of yarn and I could see the dark blue through the light blue stitches. So I went on to attempt #2 and decided to knit the square and use the intarsia method for the colorwork. That felt like it was taking too long. I went on to attempt #3 which was to knit the entire square in stockinette stitch using the background color and then use duplicate stitch to add the design. Clearly, I underestimated how slow I am as a knitter because I became exasperated before I got 1/3 of the way through knitting the background. Since the ultimate goal is to have two blankets (one for each of the twins), I started attempt #4 and #5 at the same time: one in corner-to-corner crochet and one in Tunisian crochet. And so far the winning method is . . . Tunisian crochet!

I couldn't fit the entire square in the photo, but it is roughly half the width of my California King bed. My daughter will definitely be able to wrap herself up in this blanket. The yarn is plain ol' Red Heart Super Saver that I ordered from Joann.com (sidebar: ordering online is a good option if you are looking for specific Red Heart colors, and there are a LOT of them).

The Tunisian crochet feels like it is going so much more quickly than the other methods. Despite having as many bobbins as the c2c crochet, it doesn't feel as fiddly. The one issue that slowed me down was having too many stitches on my afghan hook. It occurred to me that, even though I like doing Tunisian crochet, I kept putting off working on this project because it was uncomfortable working with all those stitches on the forward pass. I finally gave in and bought an afghan hook with a long cable at the end so the stitches won't be bunched up.


Like a lot of people, I have a problem with starting projects because I am interested in the technique but then I never finish them. One suggestion my stitchy pal gave me is something I should have thought of myself, but it is really working. I made a list of 10 projects. I can work on one project or all of the projects at the same time, but I can't add another project until I finish one. The list is keeping me focused without making me feel like I am constrained; the quickest way to make me stop stitching altogether is if I tell myself that I have to stick to one project. Here is the list that I am working on now:

Loom knit half-finger gloves (WIP)
Tunisian crochet Avatar afghan for C1 (WIP)
Deadpool afghan for DJ
Double-knit Star Trek pot holder (WIP)
Short-sleeve cardigan for C2
Patons socks #1
Patons socks #2
Patons socks #3
Tunisian crochet Avatar afghan in reverse colors for C2

I'm thinking about frogging the half-finger gloves because I've let them sit for so long that I can't figure out where I left off in the pattern. For the three pairs of socks, I bought the Patons Stretch cotton yarn over five years ago to make socks for my daughters, but I haven't decided on patterns yet. They may end up being plain vanilla socks, but I want to use this opportunity to try different sock techniques.


So that's my progress report. Hopefully, I will continue to make headway on my list instead of fizzling out.

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