Circular Motif Shawl

It’s been a good long while since I’ve been on the blog – or pulled out the hook or needles, honestly. Right now I’m just soaking in every spare moment with my precious baby, which (just as I was warned) doesn’t leave a lot of extra time for hobbies. I’m hoping to resume my ever-so-slow progress on my Jeweled Cowl after his bedtime, though.

In the absence of new projects, I’ll continue to comb through older ones and reminisce. The Circular Motif Shawl is a free crochet pattern.

Circular Motif Shawl

The pattern calls for Aran weight yarn, but I chose to use a fingering-weight option that I had in my stash. To create a substantial shawl, I accommodated the finer yarn by adding two extra large motifs to each row.

Circular Motif Shawl

The yarn is Chroma in Autumn Day. Glass half empty: This colorway is now retired. Glass half full: Chroma is on sale this month (July 2016) at KnitPicks.

Circular Motif Shawl by Babycakes Creates

I alternated between two balls of yarn to achieve the color variation between the inner and outer rounds of the large motifs. It was surprisingly challenging to make sure that the colors had a strong enough contrast. There was a lot more purple in this variegated yarn than I expected and I didn’t want it to overpower the autumnal shades.

Circular Motif Shawl by Babycakes Creates

I was surprised by how well this project turned out. It’s so satisfying when a pattern and yarn selection just work together, and this was one of those instances.

Circular Motif Shawl by Babycakes Creates

This project picked up a blue ribbon at the fair contest during the year I entered it. I have bittersweet emotions when thinking about the fair contest – this is the first year that I’ll skip it since I began entering my projects. But although I do have a few things that I could enter, I don’t feel they’re my best work. Plus, I don’t want to put extra pressure on myself right now that makes my hobby less enjoyable.

It’s so surreal to think that the last time I dropped off contest entries, I didn’t even know how much my life was about to change for the better.

Circular Motif Shawl

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Midnight Star Tablecloth

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a project report, so I thought I’d share one of my more ambitious past projects. Lately, I’ve been working on shorter-term projects like scarves (and baby stuff), so it’s kind of fun to take a look back at some of the things that took me ages to make.

MidnightStarTablecloth1

This pattern is the Midnight Star crocheted tablecloth that’s available for free as of this writing – just follow the link from Ravelry.

MidnightStarTablecloth2

The tablecloth is made from a bunch of repetitive motifs, which I chose to connect with a join-as-you-go method. Before I began, I spent quite a bit of time figuring out how I was going to lay out the stars. I made the tablecloth especially for an oval table, which complicated things a bit. Once I decided that the tablecloth would be uneven, with slightly longer overhangs near the curves of the table, it all came together.

MidnightStarTablecloth3

Motif projects like this are enjoyable because once you’ve memorized the pattern, the process becomes almost meditative. This project’s motifs look more complicated than they are, so the pattern wasn’t too tough to memorize.

MidnightStarTablecloth4

I used size 10 Aunt Lydia’s crochet thread in natural since it’s available in huge skeins. As you can imagine, this project ate a lot of thread very quickly. For a long time, I avoided counting the total number of stars needed for my layout (soooooo many), but the final count was 123.

MidnightStarTablecloth5

My husband and I went on a trip while I was working on this project, and I took thread with me so I could continue making motifs during our travel days. I just stopped the motifs before the last round and left tails on the motifs that were long enough to complete the last round. Then I connected the motifs to the rest of the tablecloth when I got back.

MidnightStarTablecloth7

In this last photo, you can get a better idea of how the tablecloth hangs over the corners vs. the sides where the chairs are positioned. I’m really glad to have made this heirloom-type piece to break out for special occasions. When I entered it in the fair contest, it earned a first place ribbon. It doesn’t get much use (and with a little one on the way, I imagine it will remain in a drawer most of the time), but it’s one that I’m proud of.

MidnightStarTablecloth6

Project Roundup

Wow, what a complete whirlwind! The past few weeks have been exhausting, but completely fulfilling from a goal achievement standpoint. I completed a major  project at work, it turned out fantastic, and now it’s time for a nap. 🙂

Because I’ve been so busy, I haven’t felt much like working on projects recently. I did gather up 10 projects to enter in this year’s contest, however. Here’s a sample of the entries:

Mother's Day Centerpiece

Monica Shawl Free Knitting Pattern

Endless-Love-Doily

Crocheted Lollo African Flower Bear

Donna-Patricia-Kristoffersen

Variation on a Bright Lights Scarf

I was looking back through past projects when I came across some photos of an early attempt at color work. I had really been wanting to dip my toe in the water on that technique, and Bright Lights was a lovely pattern to start with.

Bright Lights Scarf

I hate unfinished-looking reverse sides on things like scarves, and didn’t want to add fabric backing to my project, so I decided to make this a double knitting project instead of stranded. Take it away, Wikipedia:

Another common method is to alternate a knit stitch of yarn A with a purl stitch of yarn B. Since the yarn is held to the back for a knit, and to the front for a purl, this results in two sheets of stockinette stitches, with the wrong (purl) sides facing each other. Switching colors ties the two sides together for a single double-thick fabric. This method is often used for elaborate two-color designs, as there are few constraints on how the colors may be used. The finished item from this method is reversible, each side holding the negative image of the other.

My double-knit version does have some rather distracting edging, though – something to keep in mind for future projects. I opted to repeat only one section of the chart pattern because it was my favorite part of the design.

Bright Lights Scarf

Here’s the light side of the scarf:

Bright Lights Scarf

And here’s the striped reverse.

Bright Lights Scarf

Funny story about the color palette: I originally bought these colors of Caron SimplySoft to make a scarf inspired by Hermione’s in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but totally chickened out. It’s still on my “to make” list for the future, though.

Bright Lights Scarf

I also have the Latvian Loop cowl in my queue, and I like both sides of the pattern, so there can be no cheating on that one. Any tips/tutorials on stranded, in-the-round (shudder) knitting are welcome. 🙂

Fiber Art Exhibit + Community Art Project

The art center is doing something wonderful. It’s captured quite a bit of attention lately, and I want to share a few photos with my fiber-loving friends:

Fiber Exhibit

Fiber Art

Fiber Sculpture

I am completely in awe of this exhibit. I’ve yet to explore all of it, but what I’ve seen is incredibly inspiring. One of the best parts, for me, is that it encourages others to try knitting and crocheting. Take an instruction card, learn a skill.

Take One

Fiber

Doesn’t it just make you happy to imagine that someone who has always wanted to learn to knit or crochet might take a card home, give it a try, and discover a new passion?

And there’s another way that this exhibit encourages community involvement: They’re asking local knitters/crocheters to submit swatches, which they’ll assemble into a giant tapestry. This tapestry will capture the spirit of Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1.

From the Lake

The art center even provided the fiber – I received a skein of navy blue yarn. Since Georgia O’Keeffe is known for painting floral subjects, I decided to pick a pattern with a flower motif: The Crocodile Flower. It’s a gorgeous, heavily textured crocheted square pattern. I used almost an entire skein of Vanna’s Choice to make my 12″ square! (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

Crocodile Stitch Square

I hope to get pictures to share once the tapestry is complete. What a great way to connect the community!

Romantic Pineapples Centerpiece

Let the romance continue! Here’s yet another example of a pattern so nice, I made it twice. This version of the Romantic Pineapples Doily was made for a very special family wedding. (See the other one here.)

Romantic Pineapples

For this centerpiece, I stuck with classic white in the form of Hilaza Rústica Eclat, a fine cotton thread with an iridescent strand running throughout.

Romantic Pineapples

That little extra sparkle makes all the difference (even if it’s really only visible in closeups)!

Romantic Pineapples

Note that this thread is NOT mercerized. From my limited experience with it (I generally stick with the more common mercerized brands), it means that the thread is softer and a more fragile. Mercerized thread is tough to break even when pulling on it hard – non-mercerized, not so much. It also has more of a matte finish, rather than the lustrous sheen you’ll see with mercerized thread.

Romantic Pineapples

The thread seemed more resistant to blocking, although I wouldn’t rule out user error on that score. Not that, erm, that’s an ongoing shortcoming. 🙂 Oh well, on to the next project!

Rose Table Runner

A couple of years ago, I made a thread crochet table runner with special significance. But let me back up to share the inspiration behind the project first.

The flowers below are from my wedding bouquet. Hydrangeas were one of the first things I picked out for my wedding. I actually took a sprig of hydrangeas to the store when choosing the bridesmaids’ dresses to make sure I found the closest color match. Those flowers + ivory roses = a wedding bouquet that I’d still pick if I had to do it all over again. I’d pick the guy again too, by the way. 🙂

Wedding Flowers

Fast forward to when my crochet hobby really took hold, and I wanted to make something that reminds me of those special flowers.

Rose Table Runner

So I started making a table runner with ivory roses on a field of light blue.

Rose Table Runner

The pattern is actually for a pot holder – the Beauty Rose pot holder pattern that’s available for free. (I made a centerpiece using the same pattern with different thread colors.)

Rose Table Runner

I just omitted the backing that the pattern calls for, and turned the squares into join-as-you-go motifs. I also created an edging for the table runner by using the same stitch patterns that are included within the motifs.

Rose Table Runner

The thread is Aunt Lydia’s #10 crochet cotton in Delft Blue, Frosty Green and Ivory. The blue looks a lot brighter in photos than it does in person – in my opinion, it’s actually a pretty close match to the hydrangeas.

Rose Table Runner

Handmade items are sentimental in and of themselves, but this one is made even more special due to its inspiration. Do you have any handmade items that are particularly significant to you?