Victorian Romantic Pineapples Centerpiece

With Christmas far in the rearview mirror… Valentine’s Day, you’re up. 🙂 Here’s a sweet centerpiece project that I completed last year. The Romantic Pineapples Doily is a lovely textured project by Jo Ann Maxwell. (And currently available for free!)

Victorian Romantic Pineapples

My thread of choice was Knit Picks Curio in Victorian. As with most shades of Curio, I found this thread to be darker in person than it appeared on screen. In the case of this project, that was a good thing. I will say that I’m ready for some new color options, pretty please.

Victorian Romantic Pineapples 5

The pattern includes large openings, so there’s no chance to hide uneven stitches within dense fabric.

Victorian Romantic Pineapples

Reviewing these photos now, I definitely could have spent more time on the blocking – or at least straightened it up a bit for the photo shoot!

Victorian Romantic Pineapples

Cluster stitches add texture to the piece. I especially like the ones that outline the pineapples. Just be sure to count carefully. Not that I, er, discovered that by experience. Ahem.

Victorian Romantic Pineapples 2

The stitch pattern that makes up the hearts (and adds the “Romantic” element) are simple yet clever. Again, I think a bit more blocking is needed here to smooth out the top curves of the shape.

Victorian Romantic Pineapples

It’s a lovely pattern, and one that I’ve actually made twice so far. I’ll share pics of my second one in a later post!

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Hourglass Cowl

When I think about it, it’s kind of surprising how infrequently I wear things I’ve made. This project is an exception, though – I’ve put it in regular wardrobe rotation lately. I love the size, the colors, the pattern and the drape.

The Hourglass Cowl (free pattern on Ravelry) is really like two projects in one. The “front” of the piece has a curvy hourglass design…

Hourglass Cowl

…with a ribbed edging. I used Boutique Unforgettable yarn in Echo. I have to say, the chain craft store brands have really been “upping their game” in the past few years when it comes to premium acrylic options. The Unforgettable line has become one of my favorites.

Hourglass Cowl

The Hourglass pattern is definitely gorgeous enough on its own. It’s knit in the round, so there’s no need to worry about seaming. But wait, there’s more! 😉

Hourglass Cowl

The reverse side knits up as a basket weave pattern. I can’t decide which side I like better.

Hourglass Cowl

Here’s a closer look at the basket weave pattern, and the yarn. In manufacturer photos, the yarn often looks brighter than it actually is. As you can see, it’s actually a pretty muted color palette.

Hourglass Cowl

Here’s a side-by-side look at the cowl’s dual personalities to give you a sense of scale. I really think this was the best possible yarn choice for this project. It’s one of those patterns that you’ll want to make over and over!

Hourglass Cowl

Sparkly Broomstick Lace Cowl

Now that the weather is getting cooler, I can break out some of the scarf projects I’ve made over the past year. Including my first (and so far only) attempt at broomstick lace.

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I made this sparkly broomstick lace cowl using this helpful tutorial. The yarn is Feza Jewel in Plum from my stash (two skeins). Wish I’d had a little more yarn to use so I could have made a longer infinity scarf.

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I’d also use a larger “broomstick” next time. I ended up using a jumbo knitting needle, but it didn’t make holes that were as large as I would have liked. The tutorial at the link above offers some good suggestions, and you can also buy broomstick lace pins that seem like they would work well. It was a fun and mostly stress-free project – a good one to try if you’re looking for a project that doesn’t require constant pattern-checking.

broomsticklace1

Snowflake Ornaments

I’ve started seeing Christmas projects popping up on Pinterest and other blogs (in fact, I’m months behind by craft store standards) so I thought it was time to share a few ornaments that I made for the contest this year.

Crochet snowflake ornaments

The contest rules for this category specify that you have to enter a group of three. Last year, I made three identical angel ornaments in different colors. This year, I opted to use three different patterns (all by the same designer – Deborah Atkinson) and give them the same color scheme.

The first one (pictured below) is called the 3D Crystal Snowflake for Mom. I think this one is my favorite.

3D Crystal Snowflake Ornament

The second one is called Mother’s Day Snowflake. I got points knocked off for less-than-stellar blocking during the contest judging, and looking back I agree with the judges’ critique.

Mother's Day Snowflake Ornament

The third snowflake ornament is the Water Lily Snowflake. I wasn’t sure how well this pattern would work in my color scheme, but I like it.

Water Lily Snowflake Ornament

After completing the ornaments, I soaked them in a mixture of water and craft glue. Then I blocked them on my foam mats, with a layer of plastic wrap in between to keep the glue off of my boards. (Sorry for the horrible photo and lighting – it’s the only shot I got.)

Blocking Snowflake Ornaments

The thread is Aunt Lydia’s Classic Crochet Cotton, size 10 in natural, and Knit Picks Curio in Victorian. To hang them, I just use the simple wire ornament hooks that are available (one billion to a pack) in the holiday decoration aisles. Overall, these got third place in their contest category.

Crochet Snowflake Ornaments

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.

glitzshawl2

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…

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.

Ready or not…

…it’s almost time to enter my knitting and crochet projects into this year’s fair contest. It looks like I’ll have 16 entries this year – down from last year’s 20, but still not too bad. 🙂 Here’s a peek at a few of my projects:

Victorian Romantic Pineapples 5

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Circular Motif Shawl by Babycakes Creates

Nennir Scarf

Donna Spiral Doily

And now that I’ve cut myself off from making contest projects before this year’s deadline, I’m spending time on some fun projects with no pressure. I’m finally using my Blue Heron Rayon Metallic to make a shawl, and it… is… amazing. It just knits up beautifully. More on that project later!