Sunday, September 16, 2012

Art and Soul Here I come!

Once a year we are fortunate to have the Art and Soul Retreat next door in Portland, OR.  I stumbled upon this retreat several years ago and have attended every year since.  I have not had the money or time to actually attend any classes YET, but have made it to the Saturday evening vendor nights. 

It has become sort of an annual date for Charles and I.  I cannot express how much I look forward to this or how much I love being around these people, art, and expressions.  I love it love it love it!!  I really speaks to a part of my soul that doesn't get enough daylight.  Charles is so sweet to take me.  He buys me a drink and always one gift.  Last year it was a stamp set of Alice in Wonderland. 
Alice In Wonderland Rubber Stamp Set TJSTAMPS-12
The first year it was a pendant that hangs from my car mirror so I can see it and remember every day.

ANYWAY!  This year I have decided to step it up a notch and participate in the Trades.  These are similar to SWAPs that we make and trade in Girl Scouts.

This is my first time, although I've read about these in Cloth Paper Scissors and other mixed media magazines and blogs.

I used tarot cards I found in a bag on its way to Goodwill, some pages from an old book I had used to make my Kindle cover, found ribbon, and tea bag papers. Then added a little crochet flower and my stamp.

I made about 10 and now have another reason to be excited about this year's event!  Can hardly wait to go and trade and see what awesome treasures there are! 

 Art and Soul Retreat classes are definitely on my dream board!

I've been busy!

Whew!  It's been a long time since my last post, but I've been busy crocheting away at these afghans.  The original plan was for 8 afghans, but on second count, I decided to make 10 as we have 2 new families this year.

I finished afghan #1 w/in the allotted month and a half.  Once it was finished, I wasn't too happy with how it turned out.  Too many mistakes in the sewing part, and too many tails.
So I decided to keep it for the family.  They were happy, but it means I need to make another afghan.  This actually turned out to be a good afghan to start this project. I learned several key techniques I would need on the next 7 afghans.  1) cut your tails as you go, 2) crochet in the tail of the first color when you switch colors rather than tying the two ends together.  This makes changing colors much easier and looks nicer.  3) count, count, count.  4) know which parts of the stitches in a pattern are important to match up later on, and which ones aren't.

I also had a lot of that gorgeous yarn left over so was able to use it in two more afghans (see below).

This next afghan was from a pattern I found online. The pattern called for all the motifs to be the same color.  I first thought it would look nice if I made the "lines" in the center of the circle a different color, but that was way more work than I was up for, and didn't look as nice as I thought.  Next I went through the leftover stash from afghan #1, and found I could mach up shades of colors nicely.  So afghan #2 became my first "altered" pattern.  I followed the stitches in the pattern but changed the colors. 

During this same time I was working on afghan #3, one of the kits I had purchased from Herrschners.
This afghan turned out beautiful!  It took awhile for the pattern to emerge and I was sure I was doing something wrong.  Thankfully the pattern actually warned of this and instructed to stay patience and keep going for 10 or so rows.  So glad I did!  You can't really tell from the pictures, but the yarn is very soft, this is quite an elegant afghan.

Afghan #4 was the only request I took.  My brother heard me talking about my afghan project w/ my mother and asked if I would make him a granny square blanket in dark green.  I'm not fond of one solid color (as you can see) so I changed it to camouflage. 
This is just a basic granny square on steroids.  It got kinda boring after awhile so as soon as I ran out of yarn, I ended it.  Probably should have made it bigger.  I added a solid border and fancy tails to the corners just to add to it.  Hope he likes it.

Afghan #5 I did during this same time and was another kit from Herrschners.  The colors are darker than the picture shows, and unfortunately darker than the pictures in the catalogue.  My sister-in-law saw me working on this one over Spring Break and kept remarking on how much she liked guess which one she is getting :)

Afghan #6 is one I had in mind from the beginning but took me a while to find the pattern.  I finally found it at Lions Brand yarn HERE.  (I need to add my photos and comments to that site.)  I changed one of the colors (can't remember which) and the pattern only called for 32 stars, which I didn't think was right, so I made 50 instead.  To make all 50 fit, I had to modify the star pattern.  I used a 5 leaf flower pattern.  This was the easiest and fastest afghan out of all of them.  I made the stars in 5 and 10 increments over a week so they didn't take that long.

I love how the back of the stars came out.  I was nervous about sewing the stars on, since I knew the stitches would be seen on the other side.  After some trial and error, I finally found a nice pattern that would secure the star AND look like a star on the back side.  There's no surprise which family is getting this one!

Afghan #7 is the first one I started back in January.  It is my "Eco-afghan".  This one took a back burner after I started the project.  When I started, I had trouble w/ the color changing, but by the time I was done w/ afghan #6, I was a pro and ready to tackle this one again.  Since it is an "eco-afghan" the colors do change slightly.  As I ran out of one or two colors I had to substitute in the best match I could w/out pruchasing more yarn (part of the "rule" I made for this one.)
I like the way the chevron pattern worked out.  The yearn is heavier and will be perfect for the person this one is intended for :)  I picture this on a truck seat bench or back of a car to quick throw down as ground cover while watching the races...hint! hint!

I LOVE this afghan!  I saw this picture floating around Pinterest but could not find the pattern.
Afghna possibility, too bad pattern no longer exists.

I received a free pattern from Herrschners that looked similar but in black and white.
Fifty's Flashback Throw
I followed the pattern but used the gorgeous yarn from Afghan #1 again.  I had 8 colors so just divided the large and small circles required by 8.  Then outlined the whole thing in solid black.
What do you think?  It's not exactly the same as the Pinterest one, but pretty darn close!  And the yarn is so soft!  This is definitely another family favorite.

This next afghan came about after having too much yarn left over from some of the other afghans.  I didn't want to make another motif styled afghan.  So this is entirely my own design and pattern, can't you tell?

The colors are very bright (brighter than the picture shows) and the yarn is that soft Vanna White yarn.  This one Wanda tried to bribe me into keeping, but no.  It will make a nice lap blanket or baby blanket (hint! hint!).  I might make another one for Wanda once I'm all done.

So that's 9 out of 10, done and 3 months until Christmas.  I'm ahead of the game, but the last one I'm working on is the hardest.  Stay tuned!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Squares squares and more squares!

 OK, so I'm rolling on the first afghan. I have completed the 212...YES THAT'S RIGHT 212 squares!!  Aren't they gorgeous?
 There are 136 small ones, 44 medium, and 32 large squares.  And apparently each color combo/square has a number assigned to it.  This will become important in the next step.

But I have no idea how to keep these all straight.  Collecting all the correct squares for the first rectangle was very time consuming.  I need to think of a way to organize these in zip lock bags or something.   Right now they are all just thrown together in one big plastic bag.

Next step is to start sewing them together into rectangles.  Now we are at a I follow the pattern of how to combine the squares to make the rectangles or do I just mix them up?  Since Rule #1 is "Follow the pattern", I think I'll follow the pattern for now.

I have to make 4 rectangles of each of 5 patterns.  I have a feeling this may be more difficult than actually making all those squares.  And I've only allocated 1and a half months for each afghan.  Its the last weekend in January so I only have 2 weeks left to finish the first one.  Game on!

Oh and I forgot to tell you about the great inspiration I received in the mail.  I received a catalogue for afghan kits  from Herrschners!  The kits include everything: pattern, yarn, needle, label and plastic bag!! There is even a label I can put on when I'm done :)  I ordered 4 kits and they all came in the mail this week! 
Yeah!  Patterns and enough yarn to actually complete each pattern!

Right now they are sitting here just tempting me to start another project.....but Rule #2 for this project is "Finish one afghan before I start another."  This may be harder than Rule #1.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Projects

During the holidays this year, I stumbled upon a gorgeous afghan and thought how nice and warm they are and how much everyone loves a good afghan to snuggle up in.  So this year for Christmas, my goal is to make each family an afghan.  The way I count it, that's at least 8 and 10 if we and the grandparents get one.  In my surge of crafting that always hits right after Christmas, I started right in using any yarn I could find.  This is afghan will be known as the "Eco-afghna", since it is made from "recycled" (read as Goodwill) yarn.

And why start only one afghan at a time?  I quickly caught on to using somewhat appealing colors and a cute stitch pattern, and came up w/ afghan #2, "Baby Blues":

Then as luck would have it, the Lions Brand Yarn catalogue came in the mail!  What timing!  It is full of delicious looking afghans!  So I quickly ran to JoAnns and grabbed up more yarn then I have ever bought at one time.  To make this beauty !! 

Now to make my afghan look as nice as this one, I'm guessing I'm going to need to actually follow the least to some extent...kinda.   That will be the biggest challenge.  I will keep you posted!
My most gorgeously delicious yarn stash!