I had another skein of the yarn remaining so I thought Michele might need a scarf to match her hat.
At first I knitted a partial scarf but I was not enjoying the process for some reason. I had it as WIP at the same time I began my first granny square blanket, rediscovering the joy of crocheting. I decided to rip out the knit stitches and start over and crochet the scarf instead.
Here I am working on the scarf with Mike the Miniature Schnauzer supervising:
Is he supervising or is he trying to get pet? I suspect he wants the project out of my hands so I can lay my hands on him!
And here is the scarf completed – I added fringe to the edges to jazz it up a bit:
Michele loves to read and since this scarf was also her birthday gift I decided to wrap it in a stack of used books I gathered for her while thrifting and building my home library (see post Curating a Home Library):
She’s already received her gift in the mail so I can now share this project in a post (smile).
Yes, of course my miniature schnauzer knows how to write blog posts, why are you asking?
Well Mike no longer has to be impatient as I’ve finished my first granny square blanket. I used the word “finished” loosely as I have many yarn strands hanging about it waiting to be woven in.
I wove in the ends as I finished each block but I got lazy when I was joining the 90 blocks into ten (10) rows of nine (9) blocks.
It measures approximately 70 inches by 74 inches (178 cm x 188 cm) and it is much bigger than I thought it would be.
Here is Mike stretched out on it as I tried to photograph it for this post:
Here it is once I removed the miniature schnauzer from it:
After joining the blocks with a dark grey yarn, I added a single border around the whole piece.
I am pretty pleased with myself now that I’ve taught myself via YouTube videos how to crochet granny square blocks and to join them into a blanket. Here are all the posts if you really need something to fill your day (smile, wink) of my first granny square blanket journey. Some of these posts include links to the YouTube videos I used to learn.
Now that I’ve finished the blanket (except for the weeks and weeks of weaving in ends..ha..ahead of me), it is time to finish up hand sewing my quilt Seattle Scrappy (see most recent post on this scrappy quilt – An Update on “Seattle Scrappy” – Haphazard Stitching… ).
I notice a pattern – I seem to be really into grey lately (or is it “gray” I can never decided which one to use).
I want to start my next granny square blanket (I’ve been watching more granny square YouTube videos) but I should not start a new project when there are old ones awaiting some love!
How about that pandemic thing going around. Oh yes it still sucks and I have complete “pandemic fatigue” at this point (I know you are thinking: “join the club”).
A couple of my friends were recently diagnosed with COVID (I was not exposed) and have been on quarantine for a couple weeks. I did drop someone homemade chocolate chip cookies on their porch. They are doing okay and their worse symptom was not being able to smell.
But I will keep on crafting my way through and I might have some news in the next couple of weeks.
This is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer who lives with Tierney of tierneycreates. I am guest blogging on this post as you may have noticed Tierney has not blogged in a while and someone has to keep you updated…at least on my frustration.
If you saw this post like 3 weeks ago (maybe less, Schnauzers are not great with their perception of time) Update on the “Granny Square Madness”, she has been working on (like forever…or “fur-ever” as we say in canine) on a granny square afghan after teaching herself to make one via videos on YouTube.
Well I’ve been waiting a long time for it to be finished and I am getting very impatient!
(First I need to tell you that afghans and other cozy blankets are the “natural habitat” of Miniature Schnauzers)
I first fell in love with the afghan when it was just a couple of square she had made:
Then she made more squares and my love of this afghan kept growing and I would sneak in to lay on them whenever I could:
A Partial Afghan Will Do…I Guess…
Now that she finished 90 granny square blocks, she is SLOWLY (at least in the Schnauzer-Time-Space-Continuum perception) putting the afghan together.
And I cannot wait.
I’ve begun nesting in it, while it is in assembly, any time she steps away from it:
I’ve even begun nesting in it while she is working on attaching the blocks together (note the crochet hook on the lower left):
She’s tried to appease me by wrapping me in it, but I am not fooled:
Do I look “appeased”?!?!? Nope. I want a finished afghan.
Unfortunately she only has 3 rows together and has 7 more rows to add:
She has a system on the guest room bed where she has stacked the individual blocks for each granny square row (so I won’t topple over the rows and mess up her order like I was doing when they were laid out on the living room floor):
She says she is working on it as fast as she can but has this full-time job thing going on and other life activities (poor excuses).
Absolutely Not Appeased
I know I mentioned somewhere in this post that a partial afghan might do but on further thought it does not. I want to nap in the full completed thing!
Here are some photos of me “not appeased” to close out this post:
I thought I would share an update to this post from a couple weeks ago Granny Square Madness, and let you where I am on making my first granny square afghan.
At the previous update I was here in my progress – 46 blocks completed:
And here is where I am as of today – 63 blocks done:
Since I am making the afghan 9 x 10 (90 blocks), I have 27 more to go!
After laying out the completed blocks, I checked my remaining blocks in various stages of progress to make sure I had 27:
And yay – I have 27 in progress! This was important to check as I am getting low on yarn. I’ve already exhausted the magenta and most recently the oatmeal colored yarn; and now I only have 1 skein each of the dark gray and of the light gray.
So I really need to conserve my remaining yarn to complete the rest of the blocks. That was once a full basket of yarn! It does feel good to use up 15 – 20 year old yarn I’ve had in my stash.
I did find a YouTube tutorial that I think I am going to use to attached my blocks:
I like the join in this one. I have not made my final decision yet and plan to check out some more videos before deciding.
But as I mentioned earlier in this post I am running low on yarn, so what yarn will I use to join the blocks? Well – a couple weeks ago I found a giant skein of dark gray yarn (darker than the gray I am already using) at a thrift shop that I think I will use to join the blocks. Today I auditioned it with a couple blocks:
I plan to try joining a couple blocks as a test with the dark. dark gray yarn and see how I like it. I did take a look around the yarn department of Joann’s Fabrics, the same national chain where I bought the original Lions Brand yarn in Seattle, Washington in the early 2000s, and they did not carry any of the exact yarns I am using. Too bad I think it would have been cool to join the blocks with the magenta color!
Once again Mike the Mini Schnauzer tried out the afghan after I laid it out on the carpet:
He continues to grow impatient with me as he wants to snuggle in and fall asleep in the finished afghan.
When he got up from lying on the blocks one of the block got stuck on his foot and he “rearranged” the blocks a little…
Well that is an update for now, back to working on finishing the last 27 blocks!
I am already thinking about my next granny square afghan (not sure when my first one is complete that I can stop the “madness”) and I realized a couple weeks ago I do not have much acrylic or wool-acrylic blend yarn in my stash. I mainly have wool yarns for knitting.
So on my visits to thrift stores to build my home library (future blog post), I’ve also been on the look out for yarn that will work for granny square afghans (acrylic and blends) and slowly building my stash (quite inexpensively):
Recently I’ve took a little hiatus from blogging and social media as I was struggling with an intense bout of grief related to widowhood and things going on in the world (grief sucks as a hobby, I do not recommend it).
One thing I did to distract myself from spiraling into the pit of despair was to keep crafting, specifically working on making granny square blocks for an eventual granny square blanket.
I became a little obsessed with crocheting these blocks and my living room became “Granny Square Central”:
Note – the granny square blankets you see on my sofa above were “rescued” from thrift shops and are part of my “Rescued Granny Square Afghan” collection I mentioned in the previous post (see the Postscript section of this post for my exciting latest acquisition in my “rescue” activities…)
I also began taking a little kit with me when I left the home so I could work on granny squares while riding in the car (while someone else was driving), when waiting at an appointment, when traveling, etc. I did not want to be away from my yarn and crochet hook!
Working on granny squares has been a wonderful distraction and feels very peaceful and grounding. Thank goodness for handwork!
I used a stash of old Lion Brand Wool Ease yarn I’ve had for 20 years in grays, magenta and oatmeal, which is blended wool and acrylic yarns:
And with all this granny square crocheting my collection of completed squares began to build. In the image below I have my completed blocks in a large plastic bag:
At first I designed a block with 4 rows but then added a 5th row to make it bigger, which looked like this:
Then I decided to experiment with a variety of other combinations and below is a slide show of many of the different type of blocks I’ve made (47 to date):
I’ve completed 47 blocks and after laying them out I’ve decided to make the blanket 9 blocks by 10 blocks (90 blocks), so I have another 43 blocks to make.
Here is my latest version of laying out my completed blocks (I had 46 done at the time I took this image):
And here is an image from the first time I laid out the blocks to see what they looked like (I had 15 blocks completed). Mike my Miniature Schnauzer thought the blanket was ready for him to use!
I am currently making 43 centers for the next round of blocks and I decided to have less color changes (a lot of color changes means a lot of weaving in ends) so I am only doing three colors for the rest of the blocks.
Limiting the rest of the blocks to three color combinations works well as I am nearly out of the magenta and the oatmeal but I have lots of the light and dark gray (which will also be the lattice and border when I join the blocks together). So most of the remaining blocks will have a magenta or oatmeal center and then the light gray and dark gray for the remaining color combinations.
I think the centers are so cute, it always pleases me when I finish a center and get the ends weaved in:
I’ve begun working on other projects besides obsessively making granny squares but that is for another post. Now I have to find some YouTube videos on options for joining together my granny squares.
As I mentioned earlier in my post, recently I “rescued” another granny square afghan from the thrift store – a very lovely one. I cannot believe the amount of work that went into this blanket – it must have taken many months to finish. I know the cost of the yarn/materials and then time and effort were more than the $7 that it cost me to buy it from the thrift shop!
This new afghan has given me a lot of comfort. When I was feeling particularly sad I would wrap myself up in it as I knew a lot of love went into making it. I felt I could feel that love when I was snuggled in it and it comforted and calmed me.
I nicknamed it the “full of love afghan”. I do not know how it ended up in a thrift shop but I send a thank you out into the Universe to whoever made it whether they are still living or have passed.
Experienced crocheters – try not to roll your eyes too much while reading this post, ha!
I love Granny Square Afghans. I know how to do basic crochet (I’ve made simple crocheted afghans and scarves in the past) but I always thought Granny Square Afghans were something extremely magical and way beyond my skill level.
I’ve collected them over the years from thrift shops and garage sales. Here are examples of those in my collection:
And here is the link to a post I wrote in 2015 called Granny Square Rescue! about my obsession and an image of my collection circa 2015.
A couple days ago I randomly decided that it was time I learned how to make Granny Squares and a Granny Square afghan.
I’ve looked at patterns in the past but quickly grew intimidated since I am not that experienced a crocheter. Then I remembered my trusty friend YouTube and found a whole bunch of videos on making Granny Squares!
First I followed this video by Jayda InStitches
And made this block!
I cannot tell you how pleased and excited I was to have completed my first Granny Square!
I did not feel like my stitches were not tight enough and so I looked for another instructional video just to get a different perspective on how to make a Granny Square.
So then I watched this video by Hooked by Robin:
The pattern/instruction was slightly different and she used a smaller crochet hook (the first video used an “I”/5.5 mm needle and the second video used a “G”/4 mm) and that seemed to make the difference for tighter stitches.
In the image below, the square on the left is the first one I made with slightly looser stitches (size I crochet hook) and the one of the right is the second one I made with the size G crochet hook.
Now I plan to make up a bunch of centers and get started on “production line” crochet.
I want to be more efficient with the color changes (work on one color of yarn at once instead of constant color changes) as I create enough blocks to make a GRANNY SQUARE AFGHAN!!!
This is going to be a lot of work but I am so excited to make my very own!
I will update you on my progress…
Speaking of making things for the first time, my partner John recently made his first piece of actual furniture in his new workshop in our daylight basement. In the previous post on my blog, Guest Blog Post: A Whole Lot of Remodeling Going On , Mike the dog (giggle) shared that we recently turned part of the basement into his craft room.
Well this weekend he put the room to use and made two redwood side tables for our front porch which matched the style of the existing coffee table on the porch:
This hat is for my sister Rianna, who helped me more than I can ever put into words or thank her for during the most difficult time of my life in December 2018, after my husband suddenly died.
As I shared in the 12/23/18 post Stories from the Road, Part I, after my husband died I flew to the Eastern Coast of the U.S. (on a plane ticket my brother Raoul brought me) and my sister drove me across 4 Eastern states to see family and to attend a celebration of life for my husband with his family in Upstate New York. (My husband and I are originally from the East Coast of the U.S., both growing up in New York)
I was in a shocked daze but hanging out with my sister was a beautiful and bonding distraction. She drove me over 800 miles round-trip and on our way back from Upstate New York we stopped in a quaint town called Tarrytown, New York.
I knew at the time I needed to leave Central Oregon where I lived the past 14 years with my husband and start a new life somewhere, when I was ready, but moving to Colorado was not a fully formed idea yet. I was considering moving to New York to be closer to my siblings.
So we stopped in Tarrytown and wandered around for several hours as a break from being on the road.
While in Tarrytown we discovered the Flying Fingers Yarn Shop, and while browsing my sister brought a skein of yarn over to me and said: “Would you knit me a hat with this?”.
A little over 14 months later, I’ve finished the hat for my sister with the yarn she selected on the road trip:
I love variegated yarn and I think the pattern created by the variegations in the yarn is yummy!
My sister has curly hair (lots of it), so I made the hat a little bit wider and longer than I normally do. Here are some photos of me modeling the hat for my sister when I texted her images of the finished hat (I wanted to show her I added in extra length to the hat).
A handmade knitted hat is not enough to thank my sister for how much she was there for me during the most difficult time in my life but it is a little token of my appreciation.
When I write posts like this, though I try not to my make blog too “grief-y” these days, it reminds me how much love I have in my life from family and friends.
I’ve been struggling with anxiety this winter, especially when we have heavy snows in the Denver metropolitan area where I now live.
Likely this is related to the worse winter of my life in early 2019 (after the worse Christmas season in my life when my husband died 12 days before Christmas).
There were constant major snowstorms in Central Oregon in January and February 2019 and I was constantly shoving feet of snow just to get out of my driveway.
Previously, my awesome husband always handled snow shoveling (occasionally I would help and we would “team shovel”) and suddenly after his death, I now had to constantly do it on my own (while sobbing uncontrollably in my grief).
This continued until I finally admitted to close friends my struggles and my wonderful friend Jason once he found out what I was doing, brought his snowblower over and told me no matter what, I was not to shovel snow anymore! He drove across town daily if needed to my house to take care of the snow removal (we had an endless dump of snow daily for a while in Central Oregon in winter 2019)!
I think when heavy snow hit the Denver area in January and February 2020 it brought back those awful grief memories and it manifested itself in “Snow Anxiety”.
No worries, I am working with my healthcare provider on this anxiety issue. Living at 5280+ feet above sea level, in the Rocky Mountains, there is going to be snow. So unless I am planning to move somewhere tropical I need to resolve my “Snow Anxiety” issue.
One thing that is helping with my anxiety is knitting and quilting projects!
This morning over breakfast I was reading an article in a crafting magazine discussing the mental health benefits of handwork and came across the most wonderful quote from Anne Lamott that I will close this post with:
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. – Anne Lamott
Experienced knitting blogging buddies: please see the Postscript section for a question/request for advice, thanks!
The title of this post is Interesting as it is obvious that I ended up seriously procrastinated because I finally finished the scarf for this hat I made in December 2017 (Library Stack Catch Up):
Well over 2 years later, the matching scarf is now done:
I could not wait to try them on together the moment I finished the scarf:
However ever as soon as I put it on, I took it off as I could not wear it outside today (without looking very strange) as it is was 52 degrees F (11 degrees C) and that is a little warm for scarf wearing.
It felt wonderful to have this scarf done and I am sure our snow and cold will return this winter in the Denver metropolitan area!
Postscript (Question on Blocking Knits)
Experienced knitters reading this post – tell me about your experiences with blocking scarfs or other knitting pieces.
I used a garter stitch to make this scarf. I used a blend wool-acrylic yarn, and the edges on the scarf curled. So I blocked it after I was done knitting it, just like in this video below:
But after all that work, the edge of my scarf still slightly curl under.
Did you ever need or want to finish a craft project but the project itself had a great emotional weight?
Such is the case with a ball of variegated turquoise yarn in my yarn stash.
Last year near this time I was on a trip with friends to Santa Fe, New Mexico (see posts Santa Fe in Black and White and Creative Inspiration: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum). Sante Fe has many wonderful shops and we did a little winter hat shopping in the shops for my friend Michele who was looking for the perfect turquoise hat to compliment her turquoise winter coat.
After trying on several hats in several shops that did not work, I offered to knit her a hat using turquoise yarn.
When I returned to my home in Central Oregon, my late husband Terry and I went shopping for the perfect yarn and we found it – variegated turquoise yarn.
Terry was taking a break from making quilts and was just enjoying being my “crafting assistant” so he rolled the skein of yarn into a ball to make my hat knitting easier.
This was one of the last crafting things he worked on before he unexpectedly and suddenly died on 12/13/18.
So I had this ball of yarn, that he had wound into a ball.
I could barely touch it much less even think of knitting that hat.
However, as I’ve discovered during my first year journey of widowhood: crafting and making things are good for your spirit. Sometimes it seems like doing something with my hands is healing to my heart.
I began working on the hat in late Winter 2019 as I prepared for my move to Colorado (see series of posts Colorado Bound) to begin a new life adventure.
But it was difficult to work on and I put it away. Every time I picked up the ball of yarn I could picture Terry sitting on the sofa across from me rolling the ball of yarn, watching a TV show with me, and laughing. Some days I still cannot believe my beautiful life with him suddenly ended.
In early October on an unexpectedly snowy day in Denver, I realized that “Winter is Coming” and if my friend Michele was to have that turquoise hat for this winter, I needed to work on it.
And so I did.
Here is my favorite part of knitting a hat – when you switch to the double pointed needles:
Here is the completed hat:
And here is my lovely friend Michele in her new hat (which I gave her this weekend):
I feel very peaceful after completing the hat. Terry was also a friend of Michele’s and he would be very pleased to see the hat completed. His work rolling the ball of yarn was not wasted!
To close out this post, here is another inspirational sign from the collection of signs sprinkled about the restaurant I mentioned in yesterday’s post’s Postscript section:
It is a HUGE world but it is also a SMALL world. As a blogger I get to connect with people all over the world, and it is kind of magical!
Early in July, my dear friend of many years, Michele, went to Ireland and Iceland for her honeymoon. She is a world traveler and these were two places on her list she had not visited yet – funny the names of both countries began with the letter “I” (and it would have been awesome if she had also visited India, Israel, Italy, the Ivory Coast and Indonesia too on the same trip if she was keeping with the letter “I” as her theme for travel)!
Since she was going to tour Ireland including a stop in Dublin, I connected her with my blogging buddy Helen@crawcraftsbeasties.com and they were able to connect and hang out together during Michele’s visit. How cool is that?
Well a surprise came for me in the mail today – a box from Michele.
Inside the box was a lovely bag:
Peeking inside the bag I spotted some yarn:
Not just yarn, but beautiful yarn – from Ireland and Iceland!!!!
Now I get to knit something with yarn from Ireland and from Iceland (the yarns are different textures/weights so I will likely use them on separate projects) – what an awesome surprise!
“(Knitting,) it is pure potential. Every ball or skein of yarn holds something inside it, and the great mystery of what that might be can be almost spiritual”
― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Knitting Rules!: The Yarn Harlot Unravels the Mysteries of Swatching, Stashing, Ribbing & Rolling to Free Your Inner Knitter
Of course now Helen@crawcraftsbeasties.com is expecting me to visit since I sent my friend to meet her first, ha! Plus someday I need to see where my tierneycreates Beastie was born (and Terry the Quilting Husband’s grandparents are all from Ireland so he might want to see his ancestral home someday…) and meet her maker!
But then I would be obligated to visit ALL the countries in which my blogging buddies live, just to be polite 🙂
Or should the post title be: “For Lovers of Yarn”? Either way, here is a post for people who love yarn and/or knit, crochet, spin, weave or other fiber arts involving yarn.
Last Thursday I was at the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters Oregon for our monthly art quilter group meeting. Before the meeting, I wandered around the shop “ooh-ing and ahh-ing” at all the treats for purchases (fabric, yarn, notions, art, books, etc.). The yarn department/section seemed exceptionally lovely this visit (I think they re-organized the shop), so I took photos to share with my yarn-loving readers!
Yarn Department, Stitchin’ Post
My friend Pat was kind enough to be the hand model in several of the photos.
If you are every in Central Oregon and you are a quilter, knitter, crocheter, or any type of fiber arts crafter I highly recommended a visit to this shop!
Well here’s what I’m supposed to be working on today:
Here’s what I’m actually working on today:
It’s so cold and snowy today all I want to do is sit around under a quilt and knit.
I am almost to my favorite part of knitting a hat – switching to the double pointed needles. I love finishing off the top part of a hat – it’s kind of challenging but fun! (Plus I like being silly and walking around the house with my nearly completed hat and double pointed needles sticking out of the top – ha!)
Well back to watching the snow fall outside my front window…
And now for something completely different… – Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Let’s take a break from quilting and sewing and talk about KNITTING!
I have always wanted to learn to knit, I thought it was magical. My grandmother taught me how to crochet and crocheting is cool but there was something more austere and glamorous about knitting, not quite sure how to put it into words. Maybe it was because I did not know how to do it and it seemed so difficult that made it so ethereal…
15 years ago a I learned how to knit but I only learned how to make knitted scarves, I was scared to try anything beyond a scarf. After learning how to knit I became completely enamored with wool yarns. As a crocheter I had made numerous afghans with inexpensive acrylic blend yarns. I could not imagine buying expensive yarn for crocheting.
One of my first exposures to “high-end” yarns was at a yarn shop in British Columbia on a trip to Victoria. When we lived in Seattle, WA, Canada was not that far away and we would frequently go to Vancouver, BC. Every couple of years we would take the ferry from Northern Washington State to Victoria, BC for the weekend.
One trip to Victoria, we stopped at the Beehive Wool Shop. My first time to a yarn speciality shop, I was overwhelmed – so many colors and textures, and yarn options, and patterns, and, and, and (I nearly get short of breath and dizzy just thinking of that first experience).
They were so friendly and welcoming at the Beehive Wool Shop, especially when I told them I was a new knitter. It was as if I had joined a new family – The Knitting Family.
Displayed at the shop I saw the most beautiful scarf – a ribbed knit scarf made with this beautiful burnt orange yarn (I seem to have always had a thing for orange, see my posts Embracing Orange and Orange). I figured this scarf was way too advanced for me – I had only mastered straight knitting and straight purling, no combinations!
The kind and very encouraging shopkeeper at the Beehive Wool Shop told me that I could do it, found me the yarn, then gave me an impromptu lesson on how to create ribbing. She also wrote down the simple pattern for me.
Here is the completed scarf – it is my most favorite scarf of all time (and I made it – yay)!
Having conquered a semi difficult scarf, I set my dreams on someday knitting my own cap/hat.
Then 9 years later, while living in Central Oregon, my friend who is a very experienced knitter, knitted me my first handmade cap! Oh my goodness – I was so in love with this hat that his hat became my “security blanket” (remember when you were young and you had a “bankie” that you took everywhere with you?) and once the weather got slightly cold enough it was time to wear my hat!
My love for my hat grew to the point that I had to learn how to make such a hat, even if this sounded scary and beyond my reach. My friend Pam agreed to teach me how to knit a hat and she was very patient (very patient) as I made it through my first hat.
There are no photos to share of my first hat. It was wonderful to make a hat but it was rather small for my head, not sure what I was thinking.
I did not give up, the best thing after learning to do something is to try again, especially on your own, to cement your learning. I have made two more knitted hats since that time (same pattern) and I am currently working on a third. Eventually I would like one in every color of my wardrobe!
I may not work on it all the time but my knitting is very special to me. I like to take it on trips or to events where I will just be sitting around. I carry my knitting in a special bag – one that I picked up when I went on a trip with my father (who is no longer with us) to Williamsburg, VA. This bag reminds of the fun day I had, about 18 years ago, wandering around Colonial Williamsburg with my Dad.
Every time I go to knit it reconnects me with that special trip.