Flower Power Stole

photo used courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com
photo used courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

Okay,  I love this design, but I might love it even more because of the name Michele Maks (the owner of MainlyCrochet.com) and I came up with for it. One of the very fun things about doing design work with Michele is she has the same zany hippie-chick sensibility as me.

Orig Swatch

My original swatch for this design was using a combination of Red Heart’s “Heart & Sole Sock Yarn” with their “Stardust” yarn. Both yarns are light-weight “fingering/sock” type yarns, so I knew the effect would be very delicate in the finished design. And of course, Stardust has sparkle which is always a win with me. Michele wanted to use all one type of yarn, and that decided us on the Stardust, since Michele likes some sparkle in her yarn as well.

My "test" flowers for color.
My “test” flowers for color.

Michele picked out the colors and once the yarn arrived I began working on the piece.  I played around with the color to check with Michele before I began the project in earnest. I wasn’t too sure about the 2 colors we had for the flowers, so wanted to be sure Michele was happy with the way they looked. Of course the finished design ended up looking wonderful, another lesson in trusting Michele’s color sense.

Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com
Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

The first version of this design used 52 flower squares in 3 different colors and 36 filler motifs in the green color. What this meant was 384 ends to weave in once the crocheting was done. Yikes!

This is exactly the type of project I have always avoided, though I love the look of colorful multi-motif designs. My entire reason for avoidance was a deep dislike of end-weaving. So of course the universe was going to find a way to make me face this dreaded task and make peace with it.

Whenever I have been faced with an overwhelming task I remember my Dad’s little saying, “How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time.” Yes, my Dad is a very funny guy, and he was right. I needed to figure out how to break this project down into manageable bites.

I realized that one way to make the end weaving less painful would be to do it as I completed each step of the project. I decided to take an “assembly line” approach to this problem.  Of course I was the only worker on this assembly line.

I organized myself with yarn, hook and plastic sealable baggies.  Each of my bags was a “stage” along the line.  First on the agenda was crocheting  26 centers in each of the “flower” colors.  Since each center is only a couple of rounds I quickly had a pile of them finished. I put the centers with dangling tails in a quart-sized plastic baggie, then as I wove in tails I moved them to a 2nd baggie.

Once I started adding petals to the centers I would move them to a 3rd baggie where they waited to have their tails woven in, after the petal tails were woven in they were moved to their final bag. I was finding all this a bit tedious, but the baggies allowed me to hop around in the project so I didn’t get too bored with one stage of the design. As I neared the completion of all the flowers I separated them by color into 2 bags to make the next step easier.

About the time of the PJ Jam in August I had finished all the crocheting of the centers, but still had a lot of tails to weave in. This is the motif project I was referring to in my “Zen and the Art of Weaving in Tails” post back in October, 2012.

IMG_4504

Finally all the flowers were finished and it was time to join them together using the green color. This step was a join-as-you-go method, I found it easiest to work on a flat surface. I would join together a row of flower squares, and then work the filler motifs in the open space. Every few rows I would stop and weave in the tails for the green.

Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com
Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

When all the motifs were completed I blocked the entire piece. You can see how it opened up nicely. I sent the project and pattern off to Michele and waited for it to be put up on the website. The plan was for a Spring release of it, this was back in Spring 2o13. Unfortunately, as can happen, the yarn we had chosen was discontinued about that time.

Michele returned the original sample to me at the show in North Carolina that Fall, but we weren’t sure what we wanted to do.

Both of us really liked the sparkly yarn for this design and it got me thinking about other yarns we could use. At first I was really stuck to the idea of using a fingering or sock weight yarn. Then I stumble upon the idea of working with a slightly heavier weight yarn. I sent off an email to Michele suggesting that we use Red Heart’s “Shimmer” yarn. The colors would be more intense, but we would still have the same sparkle.

Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com
Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

Because the motifs would be a bit larger I had to modify the original pattern. One thing that helped was there would be fewer motifs, so fewer ends to weave in. Hooray!

flower stole2 flatb

This version of the design has 33 flower motifs and 20 filler motifs, so is much quicker to crochet up. We also changed the way the colors are mixed together. The centers of the flowers are a multi-colored yarn and the petals are a solid color in the same tone. Then we picked a dark plum to frame out the flowers. I was really pleased with the way the flowers “pop” in this version.

If you are coming to the Knit and Crochet Show this week you may spot me wearing the original version of the Flower Power Stole, or you can see the “Shimmer” version at the MainlyCrochet.com Booth. Be sure to stop by and see all the wonderful projects that are on the site. If you aren’t at the show you can still go visit MainlyCrochet.com and subscribe to have access to all the lovely patterns.

I’m writing this blog post from Jan’s house in New Jersey. Tomorrow we load up the car and drive to Manchester, New Hampshire for the Knit & Crochet Show. Hope to see many of my yarnie friends there and for those that aren’t there I’ll try to have some posts about our adventures as soon as I can.

 

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Yay Water!

As some of you might have heard, our water was out for 5 1/2 days last week. It was quite the adventure involving hauling in water from a local plumbed spring and a visit to my sister-in-laws to bathe.

Jugs of Water

We live in the mountains and though we are on public power our water and sewage are handled on our property. We have a septic tank and leech field for the sewage and a well for our water. Unfortunately last Saturday our well-pump gave up the ghost.

Our Heroes

Thursday Dave and Mike from CR Smith Drilling came to put in the new well pump. It was amazing that it only took them 2 hours to do it. They are our heroes. And very fortunately it didn’t cost too much to get this all sorted out.

One of the fun things about this happening is we got to learn more about our well. The last pump had been put in back in 1990 right before my husband bought this house. Our well is 210 feet deep and the water comes up to 35 feet from the top of the well. The flow from the well isn’t intense but is good and steady.  So we have a better understanding of the challenges we have had with our water pressure in the past.

Just the joys of living in the wilderness of Colorado.

Piles of Folded Laundry

This past weekend and today have been about laundry. Lots and lots of laundry.  I am packing for my 10 day trip to the East Coast for the Knit & Crochet Show.  I leave this Saturday and wanted to get the laundry caught up before I left, since my family will likely not be doing any of it while I am gone. There is also quite a bit of hand washing of my crochet goodies and re-blocking them so I have lovelies to wear at the show.

Really looking forward to seeing all my yarn loving friends again. I’ll be taking 4 classes this time and one of them is going to be a knitting class. Will see how that goes, there could be tears.

A Gift for a Sweet Baby

My favorite design inspirations usually come from crocheting up a gift for a special occasion or event. Just a little under a year ago my niece became a mother for the second time. Makes me feel a bit old having a great-nephew and great-niece, but it is also the celebration of the circle of life. I found inspiration in the arrival of this new baby girl and decided to make her a “heritage” style crocheted blanket.

The first time I would get to see the newest addition to our family was when we went back for Thanksgiving. So I began to work on the blanket in September, about the time all the upheaval of the floods happened, it was a good calming project to work on each day. The body of the blanket is a simple cushy stitch that doesn’t require a great deal of attention, then an elaborate ruffled lace border finished off the edge.

Corner Detail small

I completed the last bits of the border as we drove across Kansas for our November visit. I didn’t get much in the way of photographs of the finished project, but the photo above is a close-up of the border.

After we returned from our trip my niece posted a photo of her baby with the new blanket on Facebook.  Michele Maks, the founder and editor of the online crochet site MainlyCrochet.com saw it and asked me if I would be willing to create a version of it for her site.

Lila Blanket MC photo

After a bit of discussion we came up with the Lila blanket and it is available thru the mainlycrochet.com website. This pattern was designed using Lion Brand Yarn’s “Vanna’s Choice Baby” in 2 colors.

If there is a sweet baby in your life that you want to make a beautiful crocheted blanket for sign up for a subscription (if you haven’t already) and you can get this pattern and many more wonderful patterns to crochet for yourself or others.