Tuesday, July 31

Happy Harriet Homeowner - Part Two

I've been keeping busy with various projects lately. I'm not normally someone who needs to keep busy; in truth I love lazy days with a good book and there's not much that I don't think can be put off while I read. I'm still doing some reading, and in fact I've promised myself a week or two down time to catch up with my TBR pile. But I've had stuff that had to get done, or maybe I just felt like I needed to be doing. Things like installing a new shower head. The old one was ancient and getting a bit grungy. New one is really sleak. I'm pleased.

I also put up a new thingie over the back of the basement door to hang the ironing board on. Used to keep it in the basement washroom, but it was way to easy to let it pile up and tell myself I'll catch up on it later. Plus this way it's convenient and easy for mom to use as well. Along with that, I hung another thingie (are these technical terms too much?) to hold our brooms and dustmops just inside the basement door. I even used a level and everything.

It hasn't been all dirty chores though. Or I guess I should say that a few things other than chores did involve actual dirt:

Finally got around to sticking a few more things in the ground. It was a little late in the season and we haven't had much rain but they're doing okay, I think.

And this is my CherryBomb plant that Dee and RSS delivered. Isn't it gorgeous? The tag doesn't actually call it that; according to the tag, it's a hibiscus. But I know the truth. And along with it I received a lovely dinner out that included margaritas and much laughter. I've got really good people in my life.

But you know how it goes with gardens. Sometimes a few things turn up that you don't remember planting.

And some things start turning up as a side effect of planting.

And along the way I finished two afghans that I had deadlines for. One for a wedding that was only a little bit late (the gift, not the wedding. As far as I know that went off as scheduled). And one for a really new neighbor. But I showed you those already in a previous post. I'm well pleased with both of them. I made the mistake of browsing through some other patterns, though, and now my fingers are just itching to hold a crochet hook again. But I've promised myself I would get to that TBR pile, so I'm going to hold off just a little bit longer. Harry and the gang have waited for me long enough.

Thursday, July 12

I don't knit

I crochet. It's different, sort of. Okay, same basic idea ... long piece of string and lots of fancy knots. But knitting uses two long pointy needles. You work your stitches onto one of the needles until you have a long row of them hanging there. As you work your second row, you pass the stitches from that first needle onto the second needle, and back to the first needle for the 3rd row, and so on. Crochet is like the orphaned stepchild of sewing: there's a ton of info on knitting, but very little on crochet. But I think that's starting to change, largely thanks to the Internet.

Crochet (silent "t" folks, French style pronunciation) uses only a hook, and only one of them. You add on to your work by using the hook to grab the yarn, thread, or whatever and pull a loop of yarn - or series of loops - into the next stitch. But as a general rule, you only have one stitch at a time on your hook.

The exception to this rule is the afghan stitch, also called the Tunisian stitch. It's a cross between knitting and crocheting. Here is an example:

Notice that each row looks woven. With this stitch, each row is actually worked twice: once forward and once backward. The "posts" you see in the above picture are the row of loops formed on the hook as you work forward. The yarn that appears to be threaded under them was then pulled through, a little at a time, during the second, backward, pass. Confused yet? It's easier than it sounds and leaves you with the nifty grid pattern you see. Here's what the finished product looked like:

I just love this blend of colors. It was a wedding gift for friends of mine. Since it was a gift for two people, neither of whom is the fussy type, I wanted something colorful yet gender neutral. I think the woven look of the stitches also keeps it from looking too feminine. I don't think a guy would shy away from using it, do you? As you can see, the stitches are very close and tight, not lacy at all. So it's also a very warm afghan. Of course they live in Florida, and it's July, so they probably won't get much use out of it for a few months.

My next project is a baby afghan for the neighbors who are expecting their new little one in a matter of days. Yikes! I guess I'd better get cracking on this.

This is being worked in 3 very basic stitches: single crochet, double crochet, and chains. Do you see they way the colors seem to fade into each other? I'm working each row with two strands of yarn at the same time. It's a baby, or sport, weight yarn so the strands are finer, more slim, than in a typical afghan. With a heavier weight of yarn it's a little more tricky to keep two strands on your hook at the same time. As I go from one color to the next, I do two rows inbetween using one strand of each color. This way there is no clear line between one color and the next and they just sort of blend together, rainbow fashion. I hope Baby will approve.