La Mamie en Bleu

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Okay, so….  it’s French Country.  Un nom Francais seemed appropriate.   Granny stitches are very popular, but I don’t like granny squares.  I do like the texture of the granny cluster stitch.  I thought it might be nice to emphasize it with nothing but row upon row of extra-large granny stitches.  I picked the blue and yellow scheme for the “blue” room we keep ready for our #1 daughter.   This is La Mamie en Bleu (or the Granny in Blue).

La Mamie en Bleu The stitch is 4 dctog, YO, and pulling up each stitch about an inch high to form very large clusters.  It is very important to keep the tension steady so the clusters or loops do not sag.  I found the best way was to pause at a certain point in the rhythm.  YO, insert hook, YO, pull through, pause and feed yarn with opposite hand, pull up to height of last stitch, repeating till ready to finish cluster.

I used Red Heart Super Saver Worsted 4 Light Blue (LB), Delft Blue (DB), with Pale Yellow (Y) for the accent.   Finished size is approx. 48″ x 66″.  See Pattern La Mamie en Bleu.

There is no border on this one, as the fluffy clusters offset each other on every row, which gives a picot effect down each side.  I love how this turned out.  Hope you do, too.

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Primary Patches

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I saw a few examples of scrap patchwork afghans, and some that were a deliberate mixing of what I thought were disparate colors.  I didn’t care for many of the results, but I was intrigued by the concept.  I wondered if I could blend some of my left over yarns through the color wheel.  I pulled out the yellows… I was anxious to get rid of the yellows, as people kept giving them to me…. and tossed them on the table with some shaded browns and gold yarns.  The possibility bloomed, so I started a panel with the idea of blending from one shade to another.

I stopped after the first three sections of that panel, and put it down for a while.  I find yellows hard to work with.  If the color is a greenish yellow, or too gold, it gives me a headache.  If I can’t look at it, I can’t crochet with it.  So, it was very hard for me to want to continue this work.  I left it on the table for several days, until my mother saw it and thought it was nice.

I pondered it a while longer, and decided I might as well see where it goes.  I began blending the next shades on through the greens and blues.  Once I got past the yellows, the work was easier, and my enthusiasm returned.  This project became three panels, shading the primary colors in contrasting positions through the color wheel to the top.  Maybe not my favorite work, but Primary Patches is striking.  It is now living with Mom.

Primary Patches

Primary Patches

The three panels are worked in double crochet to the desired length.  This work is 63 rows in each panel. The first two panels begin with the primary color at the bottom and then blending up through the color wheel to the next shade.  Panel one begins with yellow.   Panel two begins with red.  I began panel three with the greens at the bottom, so that the shades blending up would contrast positions with the other two panels.  See Pattern Primary Patches.  Let me know what you think.

A little purple goes a long way.

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I bought a beautiful deep purple yarn (Herrschners Whisper Soft Deep Purple) to make one of the patterns from Afghans on the Double, but each time I started the afghan, I had to stop. I had thought that the deeper purple would bring more drama to what I considered to be a rather dull afghan.   However, it was too overpowering in a solid pattern.  I realized that I needed to soften the deep purple with a pale lilac, and possibly an orchid.  I searched for a basic ripple pattern in my library, and settled on Leisure Arts’ Vintage Ripple, p. 104 of Quick and Cozy Afghans.  Using two strands throughout, and Rows 1 and 2 of the pattern only, repeating row 2 to the desired length, I began to conceive what I eventually called Purple Pinstripes.

Purple Pinstripes

Purple Pinstripes

The pale lilac blends with white and grey neutrals.  The deep purple is dark enough to be considered a black.  The pinky orchid yarn is an offset that will work with many neutral decors.

The purple stripes start slowly increasing from one row, to two rows, then onto three and fours rows in the middle, tapering back down to two and then one row toward the top. I inset a double pinstripe of deep purple in the center.

I used a purple stripe yarn on Rnd 1 of the border, and the deep purple on Rnd 2.  It looks better against a white background, than it does here in my earth tones great room.  Overall, this was very nice.

I’m thinking of another version with white as the background, and using pinstripes of lilac, orchid and deep purple, and just using one of the solids as the border (’cause I have a lot of deep purple yarn left over).  What do you think?

Its the simple things in crochet

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I like to mix and match my table linens.  I’ll use the sage place mats on the ivory tablecloth, or the ivory place mats on the gold tablecloth, etc.  I have a favorite table cloth that is multicolored roses splashed across an ivory background, with lots of coral, greens, yellows, and hints of purple.   I don’t like to put a solid place mat on it.  They just hide the beauty of the roses on the tablecloth.  (I guess you can tell that I love roses.)

I began searching for a pattern for place mats that was special.  Except I couldn’t find a “special” pattern for a place mat.  I found lots of stripe patterns, a few ripple patterns, some circle doily mats, and some plain old single crochet rows.  But, nothing I found on the web, or in my book stash suited me.  Place mats are everyday items, simple rectangles or circles, and who needs a pattern.  Right?

I was flipping through an old leaflet from 1991 for dishcloths, and saw the pattern stitch I wanted for some place mats.  I adapted the Dishcloth #7 from Leisure Arts Leaflet 2077, and increased the size for a place mat.

Shells & Clusters Place Mats

Shells & Clusters Place Mats

I increased the foundation chain from 50 to 62, and used the first two rows of the pattern for 20 rows, alternating a row of shells with a row of clusters.  I chose Peaches & Creme Spearmint Stripes, and finished it with a border of white in single crochet (3 in ea corner), and a second round of hdc (3 in ea corner).  The finished size is 13″ x 18″ (approx).  The shades of greens and whites in the mat softens the place setting, and blends with many of my dishes.  While they are a nice Spring time mat, they can cross over to the holidays during Christmas.  Am very pleased with these.

Midnight Lace

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I looked for a special pattern for the Red Heart Soft Charcoal.  I mentioned in the post for Deco Ripple that I had to rethink the use of this yarn.  At the time I wanted to pair it with Lion Brand’s Tweed Stripes Marble.  But, they just refused to work together.  The yarns knew better than I did.  So, I had the Soft Charcoal on hand, and was trying to marry a second yarn with it, continuing in a trend I was pursuing combining different colors.  Several swatches later, I realized the charcoal didn’t need a second strand of a different color.  It is so beautiful it needed to stand alone.  I also chose to use a lacy Victorian pattern to highlight this yarn.

Midnight Lace

Midnight Lace

Adapted from Leisure Arts, Afghans A to Z, Pretty in Peach, p 43.  I left off the fringe (have I mentioned that I don’t like fringe?), and adjusted the measurements for two strands of yarn.  This adds a compelling, must scrunch feel.  You just want to cuddle under this one.

You will need about 80 oz of Red Heart Soft Charcoal.  Change the beginning chain to 110.  The rows will come out to 108 stitches ea with 9 ch2 spaces.  Gage: 8 dc = approx.  4″.

A definite edge

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Here is an example of one of my favorite edgings…. single crochet around, and dc in the back loops.  This provides a definite, clean edge, and frames the entire project.  I adapted the Lacy Trellis from Leisure Arts Afghans on the Double, p. 48.  It is a lovely pattern, but I took one look at it, and thought something’s not right.  The original uses an edging resembling a kind of picot stitch.  My eyes rejected it, as it didn’t match the overall movement of the pattern, which was straight lines.  This straight frame edging now mirrors the  lines within the pattern.  I also added a row of single crochet above the green V stitches, which strengthened the “lines”.  I now wish I had also added a row of single crochet below the green rows, so it would have balanced both sides of the green.

Garden Trellis

Garden Trellis

I wanted a softer sage green as the alternate color, which meant the main color had to move down in shades from cream to white.  My version uses Red Heart Supersaver Soft White as the main color, and Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice Sea Spray.  You’ll need about 40 oz of white, and 14 oz of green.   I enjoyed every stitch of this project.

Deco Ripple

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My sister asked for something black and white.  I was struck by the texture of one particular pattern, but again, the colors, IMHO, did not take advantage of the texture.  I also had Red Hearts Soft Charcoal, which I wanted desperately to pair with Lion Brand’s Tweed Stripes Marble.  But, every time I began working with both strands together, I was not satisfied.  They wouldn’t flow, and the colors were not what I had expected.

This is an important lesson.  No matter how much you think the yarns should match, you can’t force them.  The entire project will not only look bad, but you will not enjoy the work.  So, after several tries, I finally gave up.  I put the Charcoal aside for another project, and began testing swatches of different yarns that looked likely to pair with the Marble.  When I still didn’t get what I wanted, I took several yarns out of the bins at random, brought them all to the table, and tossed them.  Several days went by, where I would pick up one skein and hold it against the marble, pick up another and consider it.  I began making swatches with yarns I had never considered matching, and found a totally unexpected winner.  This is Deco Ripple.

Deco Riplle Side Arm Best

The winning combination was Lion Brand Tweed Stripes Marble with Red Heart Urban Camo.  The white bands are Red Heart Supersaver Soft White.  The pattern is Leisure Arts, Afghans on the Double, Golden Waves, p 34.  The large, open stitch work of this pattern gives it a furry look, so I wanted the yarns to give that same faux fur feel.   When my youngest daughter saw it, she liked it so well, that I happily made another one for her.   My sister watched as I worked this in front of her at Christmas, and said she liked it, too.  As, hers was already wrapped, I just smiled.

You will need 22 oz of white, and 17 oz ea of the Urban Camo and Tweed Stripes Marble.  Holding two strands together, the white bands are each three rows all throughout.  Sequence, beginning with Marble / Camo (Blk) is 3r Blk, Wh, 3r Blk, Wh, 4r Blk, Wh, 4r Blk, Wh, 5r Blk, Wh, 5r Blk, Wh, 4r Blk, Wh, 4r Blk, Wh, 3r Blk. Total 59 rows.  Enjoy.

Drifting Sands

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The girls (daughters, nieces, sisters, and mom) are all using neutrals in their home decor, with gray and brown tones.  This is a neutral version of the Serene Ripples afghan from Leisure Arts Afghans on the Double, using Red Heart Soft White and Lion Brand’s Tweed Stripes Caramel.

Drifting Sands Best

The colors include the whites, creams, tans, grays, and charcoals allowing it to blend beautifully with a variety of decors.  I used approx 28 oz of Wh, and 9 skeins (32 oz) of the Caramel.  Finished size is approx. 48″ x 64″.  See pattern at Drifting Sands Ripple Afghan.

I have plans for more of this Caramel yarn.  It is gorgeous stuff.

Adapting a design….

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When you work full-time outside of the home, your at-home time is usually spent cooking and cleaning.  Or, maybe we elect to let the chores go and relax in front of the TV.   Either way, I am usually too tired to design a new pattern.   I want a pattern that I can easily adapt to my color choices.   You don’t have to create a new design to be creative.  Adapt on old pattern.

Their are hundreds of patterns that need a good home.  Try varying some by altering the number of rows, the colors, and the edgings.  I often find myself altering some of the stitches as I work through a pattern, so that the completed fabric will lay flatter, or I smooth the ripple to a rounder wave, etc.  Nothing has to be exactly as written.  Make it your way.  The pattern is the starting point.

I prefer solid patterns for blankets and afghans.  Lacy designs are pretty to look at, but my fingers and toes get caught in the holes.   And, they are not very warm.  So, I oooh and aaaahh at the pretty Victorian patterns, but will generally pass them by when making an afghan.

Or, look at the pattern and see it in a different place and size.  Maybe the Victorian bedspread could be a smaller table runner, or place mat.  Maybe the small coaster could be enlarged for a motif afghan.

Frilly, lacy edges are pretty to look at, but they get caught on objects, and are difficult to care for.  I will change all of the edgings on larger patterns to a “picture frame” of single crochet on the first round, and then a second round of hdc crochet in the back loops.  It’s simple, yet gives a defined and elegant edge.

It’s our imagination that is the creation.  So, adapt…..

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If I were going to…

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I spent years looking at crochet patterns and flipping past them because I didn’t like the colors used, or the pattern.  Recently, I saw one titled, “Ocean Wave”, which didn’t look anything like an ocean wave to me.  And, I thought if I were going to crochet an ocean wave afghan, it would LOOK like an ocean wave.  So, I did.  I looked for the pattern that would provide the right “movement” and adapted the colors to achieve both the wave and crest of the water crashing on shore.  Here it is, adapted from the Rustic Raised Chevron pattern from Leisure Arts Afghans on the Double, and with Red Heart’s Super Saver Soft White and Blue Tones.  

Ocean Wave Ripple Afghan

Ocean Ripple

Using approx 20 oz Wh, and 32 oz of Bl, and holding two strands; the whites are 3 rows throughout; Wh, 3r Bl, Wh, 3r Bl, Wh, 3r Bl, Wh, 4r Bl, Wh, 4r Bl, Wh, 4r Bl, Wh, 5r Bl, Wh, 5r Bl, Wh, 6r Bl, Wh, total of 66 rows.

The finished size is 50″ x 66″.  This one found a home with my eldest daughter.