Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Crochet Patchwork of Love

When I was a kid and first learned to crochet, I began making little solid single crochet squares out of any yarn scraps I could get my hands on.  I've continued making these squares anytime I have yarn scraps over the past 3 1/2 decades.  Here I am with some squares back in 2012.  Here's the assembly process coming together back in the fall of 2016.  Originally I had intended on giving this patchwork afghan to my parents for X-Mas in 2016 but connecting the squares took longer than anticipated so I sent it to them for Easter in 2017.  It's funny to think that I've probably crocheted a few squares during every single NCAA Mens Basketball March Madness tournament since the mid-80s.

The finished afghan came out to be 14 squares long x 9 squares wide = 126 squares total.  Each square was 20-22 single crochet rows in size with a black single crochet border.  The squares were connected by single crochet with HDC border around the edge.

The afghan covers the top of my queen size bed.  It isn't intended to be used as bedding but rather a warm blanket to snuggle under during the ice cold Buffalonian winters that are so familiar to my parents.  This blanket reminds me of all of the yarn I've worked with over the years.  Many of the squares are made from vintage yarn handed down from my great aunts.  I still remember buying some of this yarn at Hills, Ames, Gold Circle, Pleasures and Past-times (and Past-times and Pleasures) and other craft shops and department stores around WNY that no longer exist. 

Now that I'm going to be a mother, I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to pass this new tradition onto my child once they're old enough to crochet.  

WIP - Crochet Block Stitch Baby Afghan

This past May and early June, Matthew and I travelled to Finland to attend the Finlandia International Stamp show where Matthew was exhibiting his collection of 19th century Danish West Indies postal history in Tampere.  After the show we went to visit friends in the Telemark province of Norway.  While in Skien, I found a really nice yarn shop called Strikkenpinnen and splurged on as much Norwegian alpaca yarn as I could fit in my suitcase.

With this luxurious Sadnes Garn Alpakka, I've started crocheting my first baby blanket with the block stitch.

Like practically every other pattern in existence, there's plenty of online tutorials, pintrest pins and google image diagrams for this pattern all available for free.  There's also plenty of patterns available for purchase on etsy and ravelry.   

It's very easy to work on while travelling or watching TV.  The only catch is that you have to hide your tails and tie off at the beginning and end of every row.  My blanket is about 36" wide and I'm crocheting with size F hook.  I have 4 1/2 skeins of white left and when it's done, I'm done.

Acorn Alpaca Simple Crochet Tunic Sweater

On X-Mas Eve, while Matthew and I were aboard my favorite floating hotel, the RMS Queen Mary, down in Long Beach, CA, I received quite a surprise.  Matthew proposed me (and I gladly accepted)! We're both philatelists and 3 years ago we met at a stamp show in Hartford, CT, while attending a dinner for "young philatelists" (stamp collectors under the age of 50!).  As corny as it sounds, it was love at first sight.  We've been through so much together and since I moved back to SF about a year ago, our relationship continues to grow stronger everyday.  We are truly happy living and working together and so incredibly in love.  I don't care how cliche all of this sounds but I totally believe in true love and you can't make quality handmade crafts without it.

Anyway, as you must be wondering where I'm going with this, Matthew's mom and stepdad sent me the most gorgeous handspun 100% alpaca yarn for X-Mas.  They live in the suburbs outside of Boston and the yarn came from a farm local to them called the Acorn Alpaca Ranch.  I instantly fell in love with this super soft and surprisingly light weight yarn and called up the farm to order more.  The 2 ply skeins are 4 oz./400 yds. and $26.50/skein.  They are totally worth it and as far East Coast yarn goes, I highly recommend buying directly from this farm.  They're friendly, professional and easy to work with.

With my swank new yarn, I decided to design my own simple crochet tunic sweater based on my own personal measurements.

My arms always get hot, especially when I'm crocheting, so I decided to make a sleeveless sweater with a square collar.

So here comes the even bigger news.  While I was only about 1/4 finished with the sweater, I found out I'm pregnant!  So instead of making it a form fitting curve clencher, I relaxed the base of the pattern to make it more forgiving to my steadily expanding pear shape.  I'm now in the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy and the sweater is so cozy that I can easily see myself wearing it well into the fall.

Here are so close ups of the detail.  The entire sweater is made with a size F hook and single crochet stitch.  

Basic natural fiber beauty.

The shoulders are horizontally attached to the vertical edges of the top of the front and back sides.

Once the sides are connected, the base is crocheted in a horizontal round around the bottom.

Looks like a square laying flat but fits like a glove!

Crochet Wave Scarf

I have no excuse for not posting for so long, especially as I've been crocheting more than ever and quite involved with the SF Knitters and Crocheters Meet up group so I have plenty to talk about.  We meet 4x/month, twice in Bernal Heights and twice in the Mission.  It's a lovely group of regulars with a few newbies coming and going.  Everyone has great ideas to share.  It's so fun and inspirational and it keeps me motivated to stay on track with all of my projects.  Most of the other women are knitters but there's a few crocheters and a few who swing both ways.  Best of all, through the group, I've made a really great friend named Kristine.  We now crochet and chill together on a regular basis (outside of the group).  Coincidentally, my next door neighbor growing up was also named Kristine and she was my best crochet pal.  

I actually finished this scarf months ago but totally forgot to take photos of it.

It's based on this simple wave pattern and I mainly worked on it whenever I was riding and/or waiting for public transportation.  Although the scarf is enormous, measuring 96" x 11.5", it only took a few months to finish.  It's super warm, crocheted with a size G hook and vintage Sayelle wool and Red Heart Super Savers.  I love the way it came out and believe it or not, I actually wear these colors often!

Once the weather cools down in a month or so and I can handle heavy yarn being draped all over me, I'll start crocheting some of these for my shop.  For those who don't already know, summers in SF can be very cold!

If you want to try this pattern yourself, there's plenty of tutorials on youtube.