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baby afghans

  • Learn to Crochet: Working in the Back Loops Only (Left Handed)

    I thought I would give you all a break this week from hearing about my ongoing adventures crocheting the Ripples of Joy afghan from Baby Afghans, but then I changed my mind and decided I have to talk about it some more.  Sorry.

    But I'm just so dang proud of this!

    The colors!  The ripples!  The size!

    Nearly 40" in diameter so far!

    I went ahead and purchased an extra skein of blue in case I decide to get incredibly crazy and work THREE repeats of the colors instead of two.  We'll see.  It will be about 50" across if I just work the rest of the yellow and then crochet the blue and green rows.  That's a decent-sized lap blanket, and it would look nice on the back of our couch.

    But the idea of making this into a full-size afghan really appeals to me because that would be a lot of joy.  I'm going to try to work on this a lot more this weekend to see how much more joy I can stand before I decide to finish this up, or to keep on going.

    In the meantime, here's a video tutorial about working in the back loops only for you left-handed hookers.  I posted the right-handed video last week, and I certainly don't want to leave anyone out.  There's plenty of crochet education for everyone, and the Leisure Arts YouTube channel is here to help!



    Did you watch it?  Now you know how to work in the back loops left-handed!  Even if you're not left-handed!  Nothing can stop you from ambidextrously crocheting lovely ripply projects!

    Man, you're about to have the best weekend ever.

  • Crocheting Ripples of Joy

    I noticed the Ripples of Joy afghan because it was on the cover of Baby Afghans over a year ago.

    I didn't think much about trying it out because I didn't know any babies at the time and I wasn't feeling all the pink.

    A year later I saw the picture again and wondered what those ripples would look like with white and different shades of blue.  Then something else caught my eye and I forgot again.  Then I fell in love with this color combination:

    while making some Christmas garland for my home.

    I kept thinking about it and thinking about it, and then last week I started really thinking about it.  I counted the rows in the pattern and figured out how I could use my 5 colors (5 rows a piece) and whether I'd include the border (I wouldn't) and which color I would start with.

    Red.  I would start with red and end with blue.

    I realized pretty quickly that working alternating rows of double crochet (in the back loops!  So you have a layered look!  Like ripples!  Get it!?) with single crochet results in uneven strips of color if you're planning to use 5 rows of color like I was.

    See?  The orange portion of this little blanket is lacking. It has 3 single crochet rows and 2 rows of double crochet, while the yellow makes up 3 double crochet rows and 2 single crochet rows.  Whoops.

    Also, that measuring grid is 4" X 4", just for reference.  The finished product is supposed to have a diameter of 36".

    Supposed to.

    But, somewhere in the middle of the yellow row I made a rash decision.  Or a couple of them.  The first: I would crochet every color with 3 double crochet rows.

    The second: I was going to keep going.  I'm going to have at least another repeat of my color pattern!  I think that will make the work at least toddler sized.  As a bonus, the pattern gets pretty intuitive after a few rows and it isn't tricky to modify.  And thank goodness this is a pleasant pattern to follow because it's the time of year for me to get sucked into marathon television-and-movie-watching.  This is the perfect work to have in my lap while I obsess over characters I didn't know existed a week ago.  And I do mean that the pattern is pleasant.  It's not mindless or tedious, but it's not so challenging that you can't pay attention to anything else when you're crocheting.  If you pay attention for a few rows, you sort of fall into the pattern naturally and happily.

    I'm really enjoying myself so far, and I can't say enough nice things about this pattern.  I haven't even touched on how this is not a square blanket!  Because ripples!

    I'll let you know what I think when (if?) I stop.

  • Revamping a Classic, Part 2

    About a year ago, I wrote a whole post about some of creative and fascinating ways crocheters modify the  Rainbow Crochet Set afghan.  It was a blast because the research involved me looking through Ravelry project pages and messaging super talented folks who talked a little about their tweaks and additions to this classic pattern.  I loved it!  I love Ravelry, I love seeing what people can do with their yarn and their ideas, and I apparently love finding out what new ways people will find to modify the Rainbow Afghan.  I've been digging a little bit more lately, and thought it was definitely time for another post.  Because wow.  If you know me at all, you know I love a good mod.  But these crocheters are unbelievably fantastic and go way beyond anything I could ever dream.

    One of the things I like the most about this pattern is that so many people want to make in a heavier yarn.  The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn, and yields a baby blanket that's, well, baby-sized.  So why not pick some other pattern written for worsted weight yarn with larger dimensions? Because this pattern is just so great.

    This is Thaila's Shroud by Incantrix.

    She used Stylecraft Special DK yarn, and I love how gradually the pinks turn to reds.  This is incredibly striking!

    Bluefrog62's Jason's Purple Rainbow floored me.  These purples are incredibly dramatic, and she mentioned in an email that she makes an afghan for her husband each time he's deployed.  She used Red Heart yarn and a Size L (!!!) hook, and finished made this large afghan in two weeks!  I'm amazed by this, for plenty of reasons.

    Up next is Spring is Coming! by bethintx.  She used Vanna's Choice and an I hook, and this is a square of forty-five inches.  She made this in less than a week.  What are you people doing?

    I was really interested in how variegated yarn is used with solid colors and I like what it does with the striped borders.  I'm betting it's a little brighter in person, and probably very, very springy.  I love it!

    Just as quick and just as springy is PurpleSpongeBob's Crocheted Rainbow Blanket.  This is so bright!  It makes me think of dyed Easter eggs.

    I especially love the granny squares in the corners.  Using a different color for the center is something I haven't seen much of for this pattern, and I think it's beautiful.

     How badly do you want to see this under a blacklight?

    I promise I'm not making fun of this.  I love it so much!  This is LaraKN's Rainbow Square Round Ripple.  She used an I hook and worsted weight yarn and made this in ten days.  I don't know why I'm so fixated on these Ravelers' start and end dates, but they seem worth mentioning.  Maybe it's because some of these folks are efficient on top of being just plain amazing.  Also worth mentioning: she added a third ripple and omitted the squares in the corner.  This afghan is 52" and so full of color I can barely stand it.  These bright tones contrast wonderfully with the black.

    Cheyennedoodles' Baby Blankie in Greens is a baby blanket in greens.  I'm not sure what size it is, but I think I like it when people leave off the granny squares in the corners.  Blankets don't have to be square.  I also like the simple, clean look of having a solid granny square in the center.  And I'm sorry this is so obvious, but I like all the greens!  This is a really green blanket!  I think the different greens would be wonderful for a gender-neutral baby afghan.

    TychaBrahe's Rainbow Afghan makes me think of Care Bears.  Or jelly beans.  Or strawberry ice cream.  It's very cheerful, and very pink.  She used Red Heart worsted weight yarn to make this blanket for a veterans' hospital.  She also crocheted three colors in the color rows instead of six.  This is wonderful.

    The last afghan I wanted to show is still a work in progress, but I don't care.  Seriously, when I asked its maker if I could feature it and she said it wasn't finished, I emailed her back and said "I don't care."  I tend to get a bit abrupt when I'm excited.  Because finished or not, I think you need to see aussie8964's Green Bedspread.  Look at these colors.  Look at them right now!

    She's using an H hook and DK weight yarns--of different brands and different fibers!  Super creative and super brave.  I can't wait to see how this looks when it's all done.

    Update: I forgot one!  Here's the Baby Turner Blanket by rainingpez:

    She used Loops & Threads Impeccable Solids, which is a worsted weight yarn.  I love the way she used variegated yarn with the solids, just like the Spring is Coming! project. The variegated sections really stand out.

    Okay, that's my afghan pattern mod post for this year! I hope you liked looking at these as much as I did.  Because I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  A big, fat, effusive thanks to the wonderful crafters who allowed me to use their photos and link to their project pages.  You're so cool!  I love your creativity!  You make truly amazing things.

  • Classic for a Reason

    My sister's baby showers have come and gone and I have just a few more things I want to make before my little nephew gets here.  I've been thinking a lot about  him, and about baby gifts in general.

    Throw in a pacifier and some diapers, and I think this might be all you need to raise a child.

    When I was pregnant, I had a lot of people me "I always loved X" as I was opening presents at showers--which were invariably the X those people were talking about.  I love that quality babies bring out in people.  They tend to get the things they love the most, and then give them to new parents.  I don't know what this impulse is called, but I love it and I've noticed it's not limited to parents.  Some of the best toys  my daughter has are the ones my friends loved when they were little.

    And some of my favorite stories to read my little girl are from the books loved ones enjoyed when they were growing up, and then gave to her.

    Some things are considered classics just because so many people have happy memories associated with them.  No one really needs to know how to work a turntable anymore, but people still give children those little record players.  I liked them when I was little, and so I got one for my little girl.  She likes it just as much as I do, and maybe she'll give her record player to her kids some day.

    If you've ever visited the Leisure Arts website, you'll notice that the Rainbow Set is always one of the top sellers.  I love to see the happy reviews people write for it.  I've seen people on Ravelry talk about how they couldn't find the pattern and just tried to wing from their very own baby blankets.  This one is actually my husband's.

    My own blanket--because yes, I have one too--is at my parents' house.  My sister has her husband's blanket.  I still see these in homes and church nurseries.

    It's such a beautiful pattern.  It's a nice size: a little larger than your average baby blanket and lightweight enough to wrap around a baby without being too bulky.  It's a truly wonderful gift.

    One of the first posts I wrote for Every Day Life at Leisure was on some of the amazing modifications crocheters had made to the pattern.  I'm planning to write another post like that again in a few weeks because people do some wonderfully creative things to this pattern.

    Right now, I just thought I'd praise this sweet little blanket pattern just as it is.  Some things are perfect just the way they are.


  • Crocheting the Colorful Circles Aghan

    Finally!  I made a baby blanket, gave it to my sister, and now I can talk about it.

    I chose the Colorful Circles pattern from Baby Afghans.

    Only it wasn't especially colorful. 

    Rather than crochet the multicolored version, I decided to use gray and yellow yarn to match my nephew's nursery, and decided I'd give it to her at a shower her friends threw for her because the theme was--what else?--gray and yellow!

    I used less than one skein (268 yards) of Loops & Threads Impeccable Solids for the circles, and then about a skein and a half of the gray.  I didn't think to work a gauge swatch, but I did play around with the squares for a while beforehand until I decided I needed an I hook for the circles and squares to look 'right.'

    The project does require a fair amount of seaming, but it's just squares sewn into strips and then strips sewn together and edged with single crochet stitches.  When you weave in and trim all your ends--I was still taking of care of a few stray pieces at the shower!  It was just as shameful as you'd imagine--you're left with a wonderful little blanket for a stroller or a car seat. 

    I love this little afghan.  And I loved making it.  It would make a great weekend project, or it could be crocheted up in a few evenings.  I love these little sunshiney circles in the blanket.  I love knowing that my sister likes this blanket because my family is the BEST about receiving yarncraft gifts.

    And I love knowing that this sweet afghan is in a sweet gray and yellow nursery, all ready for a sweet boy.

  • Knitting the Blue and White (and Then Some!) Striped Blanket

    I thought I was making this blanket for my sister.

    But the more time I spent with it, the more I realized it wasn't for my sister and her little boy.
    I'm not sure why, but this just isn't for my sister.  Which means I can talk about it!

    I cast on the Blue and White Striped Blanket from Knit in a Day for Baby one Saturday morning and was nearly halfway through with it by the end of the day. The pattern calls for just blue and white yarn, but I didn't have enough quantities of both.  What I did have, however, were several odds and ends of partial skeins.

    So I added some warm, speckled brown yarn and some bright green yarn and this is turning into a nice little blanket for a nice little boy. 

    I used navy yarn instead of the light blue because that's what I had on hand, and I liked the idea of a blanket with navy stripes.  This little boy is due in February, and that seems like a Serious Winter Month to me.  So I wanted a Serious Winter Blanket instead of the original's spring-timey feel with the pastels.

    There is one disadvantage to all these stripes, though.

    Ends!  I'm going to be weaving in so many ends!  If you stick with the two-color version, you can just carry your yarn a bit and you'll be fine.  And that's what I did with the navy yarn.  But the rest of it...well, I'm going to need some good television to get me through weaving in these ends.  It's just not something I enjoy.  But I'm going to need to finish it soon because I'm looking forward to the next phase of knitting this chunky and cheerful blanket.

    See this?

    After knitting your first few rows, you place 4 stitches on either side of your work on holders.  Then you pick them back up and......

    You start knitting a little garter stitch border for the sides!  I don't know how much I'm looking forward to sewing this border on (I am vehemently anti-sewing of any kind these days.  I don't know why!), but I like this solid border.

    I had considered leaving those border stitches on my needles and just knitting in garter stitch with whatever color the stripe was using, but then I changed my mind.  I really like that there will be a solidly garter-stitchy border all the way around the blanket.  I really like how it looks so far.

    And I can't wait to see it all finished, with a loved little baby all wrapped up in it.

  • Learn to Crochet: Blackberry Stitch

    It's no secret that I'm not a particularly masterful crocheter.  Obviously.  But I find it interesting and I like to learn more about it all the time.  I'm not sure why, but I don't mind professing my ignorance in this field.  It really bothers me when I don't understand a knitting technique, or if I'm unfamiliar with a stitch.  Knitting is my main method of yarncrafting, so I guess I feel like I "should" know more about it.  It's odd how we develop hangups about things that were intended to be enjoyable pastimes, but that's probably another post for another day.

    But crocheting?  You can't find someone more willing to advertise her obliviousness across the Interwebs.  I have to check books for explanations of the most basic stitches and I Google nearly every word in a crochet pattern.  Repeatedly.  And then I tell you about it.  If I ever tried to post anything to the contrary, you'd see right through me.

    But!  At least when I tell you that the crochet blackberry stitch is simple, you know it really must be.  When I first heard of it, I was expecting something wildly complicated that would result in a bobble that realistically resembled an actual blackberry.  But that was apparently just my very literal imagination running away with me after taking advantage of my awe at some of the designs in Baby's Diagonal Aran Afghans--which features the crochet blackberry stitch in the Blackberries and Crosses pattern.  

    Imagine my surprise and delight to discover that the blackberry is a bit like working a picot stitch!  It's a simple and easy way to make a cute little embellishment. The blackberry is worked by chaining 3 stitches and then crocheting a single crochet as you typically would in between 2 single crochets.  See for yourself!

    See?  Easy as (blackberry) pie. Sorry.  I had to.  (Yes, I know blackberry cobbler is more common.) This stitch just seems like one of those neat little tricks crocheters sometimes pull off that add so much to a project.  And while Baby's Diagonal Aran Afghans may as well be sitting with the sci-fi and fantasy books on my shelf because of how impossible its patterns may seem to me right now, I'm learning.  Slowly and surely I'm learning.  I've got the book, I've got access to video tutorials for every technique called for, and now I know how to work the crochet blackberry stitch.

    It seems like a good place to start!

  • Learn to Crochet: Working in Free Loops in the Row Below (left-handed)

    I thought about crocheting up a sample swatch to show what crocheting in the free loops looks like, but then I panicked because I can't crochet left-handed and this is a left-handed tutorial.  By the time I came to my senses, it was too late to do anything with yarn and this post isn't going to write itself.

    I may be blonde (and feeling it at the moment), but even I know posts don't write themselves.

    I mean, right?  There's not some sort of way to get posts to write themselves and I don't know about it because I'm blonde and not as good at the Internet as I like to think, right?

    Let's think about something else.

    So, let me type out with my very own two hands that this is how you crochet in the free loops in the row below when you're a left-handed crocheter:

    I'm pretty sure I say this every time, but I really enjoy watching crochet stitches being formed from another angle.  Working in the free loops adds an extra ridge to your work, creating a textured pattern. 

    Like I mentioned last time, this technique is called for in the book Baby's Diagonal Aran Afghans--a book that's giving me wild delusions that now would be a good time to embark on some crochet adventures.  What I didn't mention was that the Chevrons and Diamonds pattern was really grabbing my attention and grounding those delusions into a more practical stage where I start trying to envision actually trying this out.

    I know this one in the picture uses variegated yarn, but I really like the idea of all this patterning in a solid color. I think it would make a really beautiful baby gift.  A cream or a brown yarn would give it more of an heirloom feel, and if I used some Vanna's Choice the blanket would stand up to everyday usage and regular watchings.  If I could remember when Michaels sale schedules.....well.  We can see where this may be headed.

    These video tutorials always give me so many ideas for how I'd use the techniques.  I also just like having all this knowledge at my disposal.  I can only assume I'll be using these powers for good.  Or afghans.  Same difference.

    Only time will tell.  But until then, I'm going to be planning and practicing some new stitches.

    How about you?

  • Celebrate National Crafting Month with a Giveaway!

    Remember when I said March was National Craft Month?

    And remember when I said that FaveCrafts was helping people celebrate this glorious occasion with ideas, patterns, and giveaways throughout March?

    It gets even better!  Today their giveaway is a chance to win  $100 to spend at Leisure Arts and a free Knook package!  They have all the rules for entering the contest on today's post, so head on over there right now!  Do it!  Click here!  Right this instant--the contest is only for today (March 13, 2013), so you'd better hurry! 

    And if you want even more crafting goodness, you can download The Ultimate Craft Guide: 25 Free Craft Projects for Every Crafter.   It has paper crafts, jewelry projects, and even Leisure Arts' very own Chunky V's Lace Mitts, which is also featured on today's post over at FaveCrafts.

    This crochet pattern uses an E hook and one skein fingering weight yarn (think sock yarn).   This is a great lightweight handwarmer that seems light enough for spring, but cozy enough for the days when the wind is brisker than expected.

    This pattern is from the book Texting Mitts.  You could buy this, and a lot of other things, with $100.  I mean, you could buy it yourself now, but it's more fun to use free money.  So be sure to enter to win at FaveCrafts!

    AND don't forget that Leisure Arts is offering a discount of $2 off a different ebook every day this month.  Today's book (sale link) is The Big Book Beautiful Baby Afghans (click this link if you're reading this post after March 13), which has 29 sweet designs for baby blankets. 

    But if sweet or baby gifts or crochet aren't your thing, come back tomorrow to see what's on sale.  And the day after that.  And the day...I'm sure you get the idea.

    It's March!  Spring is in the air, along with discounts, giveaways, and a general fervor for crafts. 

    Did I even remember to mention that FaveCrafts has a chance to win a $1000 gift card for Michaels?!  Probably not because there are too many giveaways for me to keep track right now!  This is an exciting time!

    I hope you're excited!  And I hope you win!  Or least enjoy the sales! 

    Happy crafting and good luck!

  • WIP Wednesday: It's Unraveling All Around Me

    I wrote a WIP Wednesday post a couple of weeks ago, and thought I'd talk a little more about my works in progress. 

    First up, this is my Honey Cowl with Scratchy Allergic Yarn from Hell.

    I unraveled it.  The yarn wasn't working with the pattern, and the yarn really wasn't working with my hands.  So that's the end of that

    (Dusts off itchy, splotchy hands.)

    Next up, the Mitered Eyelet Blanket from Baby Blankets Made with the Knook.

    I unraveled that one, too.  I just didn't like the yarn with the pattern.  I do want to try the pattern, though.  I think I will soon, and probably with some yarn that is not cotton.  I'm sure the yarn will find a nice project some day, but I think this pattern needs some yarn that's just a little bit fuller.  And maybe more colorful.  We are talking about a baby blanket, after all.

    Looking through some of these projects really motivated me to think about whether I wanted to work on things or not.

    It looks I did not want to do too very much with this dishcloth.  I haven't unraveled it, though.  I think I'll just add another few rounds every time I have some spare cotton yarn ready to go.  It may look like a crazy person dishcloth, but it will be living in my kitchen.  So......

    Remember when I thought it would be cool to turn a headwrap into a cowl?  It was a fun idea at the time. 

    Then I guess I changed my mind.  I haven't touched it in two full weeks, and I don't think I will any time soon.  Consider it frogged.

    But!  I still plan to work on the Cable Headwrap--you know, an actual headwrap--from Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps (Knit).

    I mean, I haven't worked on it in the past 2 weeks.....but I feel motivated to get back at it now that I have this picture shaming me.  My friend's birthday is coming up (and a lot sooner than her wedding!), so I need to hop to it.

    And then there was this guy.

    This is the Little Baby Sweater from Purl Bee, and it's just precious.  It's also going pretty well.  It's not finished yet, but I'm probably about 75% of the way through it. 

    And then I'll start on Sweater #2.  Sigh.

    I'm making good progress, but this is all I want to show you.

    You know how it is with gifts.  Part of me wants to talk about it, but another part of me wants to be secretive and sneaky.  (And I want to play with my camera because it's new and fun.)

    A newer WIP is the Rib and Welt dishcloth from Easy Textured Knits. I'm using standard cotton yarn and knitting needles that are a size smaller than what the pattern calls for to account for gauge. 

    I like it a lot, and it's going well. 

    So 3 projects are gone, 2 are just the same, 1 is actually progressing, and 1 itty bitty baby WIP was born last weekend.  I'm a little freer to work on my projects, and some of those projects are a little farther along than they were the last time I posted.  If I keep posting these updates, I know I'll probably be a lot more motivated to finish up my WIPs in a much more timely manner. 

    What motivates you to finish up your WIPs?

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