Knit and Crochet Away!

Granny Square Madness

This is a follow up to my blog post Making My Own Granny Square Afghan, in which I discuss how I taught myself via YouTube videos to crochet granny square blocks.

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.


Postscript

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.

Knit and Crochet Away!

Making My Own Granny Square Afghan

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:

2020-08-15_07-39-14_4692020-08-15_07-39-28_5712020-08-15_07-40-09_965And 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.

Rescued Granny Square Afghans - all safe and loved in my homeA 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!

2020-08-15_07-35-16_5262020-08-15_17-33-02_767I 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.

2020-08-15_17-32-56_112Now 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!!!

2020-08-16_12-31-20_605This 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…


Postscript

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:

2020-08-15_14-46-33_8352020-08-15_16-35-17_7922020-08-16_12-32-30_5402020-08-16_12-32-52_530So we were both pretty proud of ourselves!

A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!

The Hat from the Yarn from the Journey

I recently finished another knitted hat with the kind of story behind it like the one I shared in my 11/11/19 post The Ball of Yarn (which eventually became a hat).

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.

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wildkidswander.com

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:

2020-02-21_12-27-11_0362020-02-21_12-32-13_8482020-02-21_12-32-52_956I 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).

2020-02-21_12-29-42_8522020-02-21_12-25-08_665A 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.


Postscript

“Snow Anxiety”

I’ve been struggling with anxiety this winter, especially when we have heavy snows in the Denver metropolitan area where I now live.

F7LeNnXLikely 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

 

Knit and Crochet Away!, tierneycreates

Scarf finally done

This is a quick follow up to a post I wrote in February 2018 – A Case Against Procrastination

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):

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(I think I had a couple less wrinkles in 2017)

Well over 2 years later, the matching scarf is now done:

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I could not wait to try them on together the moment I finished the scarf:

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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.

2020-01-04_11-04-45_305.jpeg

Any thoughts?

Is it because I used a wool-acrylic blend?

A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!

The Ball of Yarn (which eventually became a hat)

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:

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Here is the completed hat:

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And here is my lovely friend Michele in her new hat (which I gave her this weekend):

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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!


Postscript

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:

2019-11-08_13-36-33_294

 

A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!

Small World with Awesome Yarn

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:

bag.jpg

Peeking inside the bag I spotted some yarn:

insidebag.jpg

Not just yarn,  but beautiful yarn – from Ireland and Iceland!!!!

yarn1yarn2

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


Postscript

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 🙂

A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!, Quilt Shop Tours

For the Yarn Lovers

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

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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!

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A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!

Not working on what I’m supposed to be working on

My Intentions

Well here’s what I’m supposed to be working on today:

Reality

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…

❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

Postscript

Reminder – Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer now has her own blog schnauzersnips.wordpress.com.

You can sign up to follow her blog at schnauzersnips.wordpress.com/blog/

A Crafter's Life, Knit and Crochet Away!, tierneycreates

Knitting!

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.

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Here is the completed scarf – it is my most favorite scarf of all time (and I made it – yay)!

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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!

Dec 2014 me
Me in my “security blanket”
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!

2016-10-06_13-57-05_917-2016-10-07t00_39_35-253
My knitted hat collection (from the top): I made the olive green hat, my friend Pam made the purple variegated one, I made the blue one, the maroon one is in progress.
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.

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Every time I go to knit it reconnects me with that special trip.

Happy Crafting!