Try, Try Again

As much as I’d like to share a post about a successful project that’s DONE (on the heels of my failed attempt to salvage an old project), here’s another cautionary tale. This time, it’s about the importance of counting your stitches when working crochet in the round… even when your pattern doesn’t provide a stitch/chain space count for a particular round. Especially when the pattern doesn’t provide a count. Do the math. Count the stitches.

If you zone out during a simultaneous Netflix/crochet session (ahem), you’ll make a rookie-level mistake that costs you hours and hours of effort. See that out-of-focus loop in the center of this (terribly blurry, so sorry) snapshot? Yep, that’s one skipped stitch that completely wrecked the tension and counts on every subsequent round.

Skipped Crochet Stitch

Which means all of the off-white stitches in the photo below have now been frogged – a process that took twenty minutes in itself. It’s times like these that it’s important to remember that the process, not the finished product, is what I really enjoy. :) So help me feel better about this – what frustrating crochet/knitting mistakes have you made?

Table Topper

Some Projects Can’t Be Saved

I was revisiting one of my early projects, the Cutie Pie Doily, since at the time I made it I was soooo proud of my effort. It was one of the first doilies I made, and certainly my first beaded project.

Here it is as I originally shared it. In a word, FAIL.

Beaded Cutie Pie Doily

I recently thought that by going back and trying to block it again, I could salvage it. I was so wrong. It’s just a complete mess. It’s plagued by tension problems, and the crowning “achievement” is the last few rows where I apparently decided to go rogue and disregard the pattern. (Why?)

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The blocking itself is not that great this time either. I phoned it in as I got to the outer edges, realizing that even the best blocking wasn’t going to save this one.

It is a tiny bit better, but it’s hard to believe I entered it as a contest project. I’m not really very excited that I decided to share it here in the first place, honestly. But it’s important to have perspective on projects that didn’t work. I can be quite stubborn about trying to execute a pattern that just doesn’t play nice with my gauge and yarn choices. (I think, sadly, I’ve been working on one of those recently.)

So how about you? Have any projects that you thought were amazing when you finished them, but make you cringe now?

CutiePieDoily

Getting Started

Do you remember learning how to knit or crochet? When you’ve been doing something for a long time, it’s hard to remember where you started and how difficult it was. That’s certainly the case for me – I’d rather forget the frustration and frogging. :)

A woman named Dayna has started posting about a series of challenges that her family and friends have given her to help her learn new things and get outside her comfort zone. Aside from being a great idea in general (who hasn’t made a “bucket list” at one point?) I love that one of her challenges was to learn how to crochet from her mom.

It seems that, more often than not, this type of craft is passed down from one generation to another. It just makes the hobby that much more meaningful. Who taught you to knit or crochet?

 

New Orleans

The husband and I celebrated a milestone anniversary this year with a cruise out of the Port of New Orleans. Neither of us had been to NOLA before, so we specifically chose this cruise so we could spend a couple of days there prior to setting sail. We stayed quite close to the French Quarter and focused most of our time in that area since our stay was short.

Naturally, the trip included a crafty shopping component. In the spirit of keeping things relevant around here, I’ll cut to the chase and deliver the yarn store goods first. Then, if you’re interested, stick around for some other trip highlights. :)

Yarn

The Quarter Stitch on Chartres St. is lovely, with a selection that’s broad without being overwhelming. There was definitely a “community” vibe when I was in the store – the staff was very friendly, stepping in to offer customers advice on patterns and chatting about the merits of different fibers with customers. Overall, a very pleasant experience.

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I picked up a skein as a souvenir of the trip. I just love it when yarn stores pack your purchases in fancy wrapping. Here’s mine, on the ledge of our hotel window.

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I’m a big believer in the importance of providing a unique and memorable customer experience. There’s a lot of competition in the market, and seemingly small gestures can turn a relatively ordinary experience (making a purchase) into something special. Ribbons? Tissue paper? Heart-shaped confetti and an adorable tag? My yarn purchase is still stored in this wrapping, in fact, and you can bet I’ll remember the store when I’m ready to use it.

And here’s my yarn – a skein of my beloved Blue Heron Rayon Metallic.

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I picked the Mossy Place colorway because of its fun and festive shades – a reminder of the vibrant character of the city. I also had my eye on the Tapestry colorway, but ultimately couldn’t resist this one.

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Gorgeous as always – I just love this yarn and save it for really special projects. (I just finished my Gail shawl in Turquoise – it’s blocked and drying as I type!)

Visiting

Although our stay was short, we discovered that there really is something for everyone who visits. And, apparently, anyone who is in the market for real estate. Whatever your stance on the supernatural, there’s a property for you. (Budget allowing, of course. ;) )

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Food & Drink

One of the first orders of business was to check out the infamous Bourbon Street. The Pat O’Brien’s location on Bourbon Street has a beautiful courtyard – a welcome oasis after traveling. Hurricanes and mint juleps all around. Speaking of unique customer experiences – they wash out your glass for you, box it up and let you take it home as a souvenir. Again, small gestures make a difference.

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We ate dinner at Mother’s one evening, which is something of a New Orleans institution. It’s not cheap, but they do make a great po’ boy.

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Rounding out our tourist-heavy food & drink itinerary is the obligatory Café du Monde pilgrimage. We stood in an impressively long line at the “to go” window, to avoid an even more daunting line for those wanting to eat “inside” the airy structure. There were some areas to sit behind the French Market, and so we grabbed our beignets and coffee and sat in the relative peace and quiet to enjoy. Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, it’s a long wait. But we weren’t about to visit NOLA for the first time without doing it.

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Sights

We also made our visit a cultural one, stopping at two Louisiana State Museum sites in Jackson Square: The Cabildo (pictured below – and note the jazz musicians playing on the nearby balcony) and The Presbytère. The latter is home to a compelling Katrina exhibit with multimedia displays and artifacts, plus a Mardi Gras exhibit that includes many costumes, parade float components and other treasures.

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Jackson Square is so pretty, and look! Thanks to a combination of luck and a sudden, short burst of rain that cleared the area, I got the iconic Jackson Square photo without a ton of (other) tourists in it. I know everyone takes a photo from this spot, but it’s still by far my favorite one from the trip. :)

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We peeked inside Saint Louis Cathedral while we were there, too.

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One of our last stops was Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1. It was quite a hike to get here from our hotel. I’d done a bit of reading about the cemetery before our trip, so we saw most of the highlights (including Nicholas Cage’s pyramid tomb…). If we’d had a bit more time, I think we might have benefitted from a guided tour.

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So there you have it – our short and sweet trip. Have you been to New Orleans, and if so, what were the highlights of your trip?

Glitz at the Ritz Shawl

Now that the fair contest is over and I’ve picked up my projects, it’s time for a good old-fashioned online show and tell. :) So without further fanfare, here’s part 1 of my 16-part (!) series of posts on this year’s contest entries.

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Project numero uno is my take on the lovely Glitz at the Ritz shawl pattern by Helen Stewart. It’s available for FREE and is incredibly fun to make.

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Okay, maybe the beading part was less-than-fun – as I have discovered before. If you’ve ever tried to shove a loop of yarn through a Size 6 bead (I used a pushpin to “fish” the yarn through – good times), you know what I’m talking about. Multiplied by about a zillion beads. Yep, it was a time-consuming, finger-endangering process.

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Roll that beautiful bead footage. I used Bead Treasures beads in Beach Party, which coordinated very well with the yarn (I just omitted the green beads in the pack, and still had more than enough). As for the yarn, it’s the Araucania Nuble yarn from my stash – purchased on my trip to St. Louis.

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I love the contrast between the main body lace pattern and the “star lace” pattern toward the bottom edge. It’s such a great pattern – reviewing these photos makes me want to make another one!

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The edging was simple and stress-free. It’s all in the blocking!

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Star lace makes this a yarn-thrifty project. I used less than two skeins of the Araucania Nuble – crazy for a project of this size. The beads lend weight and substance to this otherwise-airy shawl.

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Love the staggered polka dots in the main body lace.

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Although this one didn’t receive a ribbon, it got a perfect score in the judged criteria. (It’s a very competitive category – I don’t envy the judges for having to make tough calls!) I’m proud of it because I learned a couple of new techniques.

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Now that I’m done writing about this shawl, I’ll get back to my Gail (Nightsongs) – which I just frogged for the umpteenth time this weekend! With great yarn comes great responsibility…

Fair Contest Report

I’ve mentioned it before, but the main reason I enter my local contest is to get inspired by others’ projects. It’s fun when I even recognize some of the patterns and yarns that were used.

Of course, the competitive aspect of the contest is also part of the fun. I was completely shocked – and extremely flattered – to receive Best of Show for crochet, among other honors. But mostly, I’m lucky to have access to such a large and impressive display of talent – the picture below doesn’t even include half of the exhibit space for fabric and threads!

Fair Contest

I’ll show pictures of my projects (with as many construction/materials details as I can remember) in future posts. But first, I wanted to show my photos of a few projects that inspired me at the exhibit. The most visible names on the projects have been clumsily Photoshopped out to protect privacy – I’m sensitive to the fact that not everyone wants their name displayed online. But on the off chance that one of them is yours and you’d like to claim credit by name, let me know! :)

If you happen to recognize a pattern for one of the projects pictured, feel free to mention it in the comments – I’d love to add it to the post so others can make it too!

This first project was in the baby blanket class. I loved the abundance of texture in the pattern. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful in-the-round baby blankets I’ve seen. I kind of want to make it as a doily, too!

Fair Contest

Lately I’ve been loving lacy knit shawls in white/ivory yarn. It’s tough for me to pass up colorful yarn in favor of the simplicity of white yarn, but after seeing so many stunning results I’m going to have to give it a try.

Fair Contest

I can’t confirm the pattern for this crocheted afghan, but it does remind me of the Popcorn Ripple Afghan pattern that I’ve had in my Ravelry favorites forever.

Fair Contest

I took several photos of this shawl – I just have to make it! Any leads as to the whereabouts of the pattern would be greatly appreciated. :)

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This crocheted cardigan appears to have been made from Loops & Threads Payette. I have bunch of that yarn in my stash for another project (in another color way), and it was nice to see that it works up so beautifully.

Fair Contest

Look at those tiny perfect stitches! The shawl below has great colors, a lovely, simple design, and wonderful technique. An all-around winner in my book!

Fair Contest

I swear I just saw the pattern for this gorgeous square doily, and now I can’t find it. I’m thinking perhaps it’s adapted from a table runner, but that’s a guess. In any case, it’s another one I want to make myself.

Fair Contest

This yarn. It’s beautiful and I would want to get some ASAP… if I knew what it was. The crocheter showed it off to advantage with this swirling fan pattern.

Fair Contest

Finally, here’s one I recognize – it’s the famous “Bigger on the Inside” shawl! I’ll be completely honest – this awesome TARDIS-inspired shawl pattern is one of the key reasons (in addition to cables) that I wanted to learn how to knit in the first place. As a beginner, I looked at the pattern, sighed at my lack of skill, and filed it away for future use. But I just bought the yarn to make it and hope to get started in the not-too-distant future. I wonder which stitch markers I’ll use…

Fair Contest

Thanks for sticking with me through this post – I hope you enjoyed looking at these inspiring projects as much as I did!

Crocheted Lorelei Shawl

I find out tomorrow how my projects rated at the contest – exciting! Not to mention the main reason I enjoy going, which is all of the awesome inspiration I get from others’ projects. Now that I’m on my third year of entering, I can recognize names of fellow entrants I admire – and even the names of some of the patterns/designers and yarns/colorways they have used. I love it.

I’ll be more timely about sharing the latest round of entries, but I’ll also continue to share projects I’ve entered in the past. This shawl was from my very first year of entering the fair contest.

Crocheted Lorelai Shawl

The pattern is the Lorelei shawl by Kimberly K. McAlindin, and the yarn is Lily Sugar’n Cream. The variegated colorway is Country Side. The solid color is just some coordinating green.

Crocheted Lorelai Shawl

I love the look of the yarn, but one of the judges questioned the choice (but didn’t really elaborate on why). To be fair, the cotton is pretty heavy for this type of project – it’s not a terribly useful shawl, but it’s nice as a “lapghan.” :) I doubt I would pick it again for this project.

Crocheted Lorelai Shawl

This one got a fourth place prize, and I was over the moon to get awards in my first year of entering. It’s a fantastic pattern, and I’ve actually been wanting to recreate it with lighter yarn.

Crocheted Lorelai Shawl

Until then, the work progresses on my Gail (Nightsongs) shawl and I’ve finally gotten the hang of it.