Monday, August 30, 2010

I know there's no such thing as a coincidence...

Thanks to Facebook I think I've already had more people read this blog than I did in two years of GottaWearShades posting! Now would someone please click on "Follow" so I don't look so lame? lol Anyway, one of those readers, my Sunday School sidekick literally from birth to high school graduation, asked, "Do you have a nice pattern for a knitted ripple blankie?". Well as a matter of fact I do! It just so happens that just a few months ago I made a "knitted ripple blankie" for a Vero HS graduating senior, who has since begun his freshman adventure at University of South Florida. I found this on (free registration required for access) and could easily picture it in three colors (much as I love the multi stripes!). It claimed, "Skill Level: Easy", so I said, "What the heck? Let's try it." Once again, I was glad I checked the official school colors before I went crazy at the yarn store. I always thought USF was green and black - turns out they're green and gold. But I knew Alex likes black, so I used that as the background color (3 strands of Bernat Satin Sport) and created a pattern of green and gold stripes (2 strands of Caron One Pound in Forest Green and Sunflower). All of these yarns can be machine washed and dried, so the smell of old beer can be removed as desired. Here's how mine turned out:

Sunday, August 29, 2010


I received the following text message first thing yesterday morning: "Hey - what's the pattern for that striped afghan you made? I bought some yarn and a crochet hook yesterday, and have relearned single & double crochet, but I'm not quite ready for granny squares (stymied by the going around in circles part) so I thought rows of stripes might be easier." This came from my dear friend, college buddy and wing man Big Genny (as opposed to Little Genny, my daughter - qualifiers refer strictly to chronological age and seemed much more appropriate when the latter was in diapers) who had no idea that I had begun this blog less than 12 hours earlier.

It is heartening to me that my latest obsession is in any way rubbing off on Big Genny (you know, I'm just going to refer to her as Murph from here on out - don't ask) because for years I have observed her crafting beautiful, ambitious, intricate cross stitch projects, nay works of art, and have admired her dedication and steadfast work. Where needlework projects are concerned, she succeeds in two areas where I have always faltered in the past: 1) as far as I'm aware, Murph takes on only one project at a time and actually finishes everything she starts, and 2) she tackles incredibly time consuming projects and completes them little by little, one step at a time, without becoming totally consumed or obsessed and burning out. For the woefully insufficient 15 days or so a year that we're together, whether we're down the shore or in Florida or at her family's lake cottage, our mornings usually begin slowly and leisurely with coffee and needlework, then it's time to put that aside and move on to something else (usually involving sun, beach and beverages). Come to think of it, it's probably not an issue of admiration and inspiration at all, but rather that Murph has noticed it's a lot easier to see big bulky crochet stitches with 47-year-old eyes than it is to work that tiny little aida cloth with minuscule strands of floss in 13 different shades of blue.

Anyway, here's a photo of the afghan to which Murph refers:
I worked on this during my time at Long Beach Island this summer and finished it up a couple weeks ago, just in time to send it off to Ithaca College with an enthusiastic and gratifyingly appreciative young man. In general I knit more than I crochet, and I find knitting more versatile, but this pattern was a freebie in the yarn department at Michael's last spring, and the yarn was yummy soft, and it looked simple enough. And boy was I thankful for my iphone that day because I could have sworn that Ithaca's colors were blue and white, but something told me to double check, and a quick on-the-spot google search right there in Michael's turned up blue and gold as the official school colors.

Anyway, back to Murph's request for the pattern. Alas, as soon as I wove in the last loose end I threw away the instructions and returned the extra yarn, eager to move on to my next creation. I was unsuccessful in my attempt to find the pattern online so I've been looking for something similar and found this one:
Dubbed, appropriately enough, "Easy Striped Afghan", the pattern can be found here, a delightful little website called Yarn Art put up by an 18 yo knitter. I discovered the pattern and site via Crochet Pattern Central, an online directory of free patterns - more than you could ever imagine - complete with tutorials, tips, vendor links, etc. I had already discovered its sister site Knitting Pattern Central last week when I was searching for a baby hat pattern. ( In fact, the numerous websites and blogs that I visited during my search reminded me that I had conceived of and named this blog months and months ago, and I was encouraged to revisit it and actually launch something.) Hate to say it out loud (if you're a craft publisher, cover your ears), but with the wealth of resources on the internet I see no reason to ever pay for a pattern or instruction book again. I can put all that money toward my yarn stash.

So Murph, you're on your way! Make sure you send me a photo of your snugly masterpiece when it's finished, and I'll post it for all to admire. Now get to work - you only have 8 days left of summer vacation!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

This blog will no doubt cut into my knitting time...

I am the granddaughter and daughter of knitters, and I have the ponchos, afghans, and psychedelic snake to prove it. Somewhere along the way I learned the rudiments of the craft, and I'm both grateful and amazed that my latent skills, virtually unused throughout most of my life (a granny square hat here, a sleeveless sweater there) have resurfaced in recent months, and I am discovering the joy of creating what I consider nothing short of masterpieces one stitch at a time. However, I find myself with two severely limiting parameters: 1) I live in a climate where one has absolutely no use whatsoever for sweaters, scarves, hats, mittens, etc., no matter how soft and delicious and irresistible they may be; and 2) I don't believe in gauge. Oh, I've tried knitting swatches a few times (OK, once), but on the one hand I'm always too eager to get started with the "real" knitting, and on the other hand, apparently my tension requires a needle size which doesn't exist on this good earth.

So what am I to do? Well, you and I will both discover that as we go along, but the short answer is this: afghans. Even in Florida one needs to wrap up in a cozy blankie once in awhile, and I'm even willing to crank up the AC if need be to achieve the right amount of chilliness when Mother Nature just refuses to cooperate. And who cares about gauge with a blanket? No need to be exact as long as it covers most of me when I'm curled up on the couch, right? The bigger the better, I say. Trouble is, we don't really need any more throw blankets in our house - 6 or 7 is probably enough. Well then I'll just knit blankets for other people, that's what I'll do! Kids going off to college, and new babies, and friends up north, and maybe someone who's going through a rough patch and could use a soft, warm hug.

Well, I already have a couple of these projects under my belt, and I'll share them in upcoming posts. But now I have also accomplished the task of writing this first post. For some reason getting started with this blog took more time and mental effort than knitting an afghan, but I've done it. All that's left for now is to imagine where this adventure in stitches and words will take me.