Monday, January 3, 2011

Exchange Afghan

Well, better late than never! About ten years ago, I participated in two exchanges on the the Crochet Partners online group. I sent granny squares out to my exchange partners, and they, of course, sent squares back to me. One of the exchanges was just squares, the other was for squares with a floral theme. I enjoyed getting all the squares in the mail, put them in a box, and never did anything with them. This was about 1997-98, possibly later, but no later than 2000.

Fast forward ten years. The squares have moved with me, twice, including all the way from Maryland to my current home in Hawai'i. I wasn't able to keep the envelopes they came in, nor any notes they may have had, so I was left with just a box of anonymous squares! A few of them looked very familiar - I think I took the extra squares I made for each exchange and tossed them in with the ones I received. Which explains the three made of the same pink yarn!

I recently had a two-week break from work and was determined to finish up some long delayed projects. I made about 150 baby hats to totally use up my scraps, put together a pile of hexagons into the blanket they were meant to be, and unravelled several projects that were destined to never be finished - leaving me with nice balls of yarn to be turned into Project Linus blankets. And, finally, I crocheted my CP Exchange squares together into an enormous blanket! In the photos below, it covers my queen size bed.

I didn't attempt to arrange them - the arrangement is totally random. I merely tried to alternate floral with "plain" so all the flowers weren't bunched togehter.

All I did to join was use black worsted weight yarn and an H hook to crochet a simple joining of sc, ch 1. I had 157 squares, so I made 12 strips of 13 squares each, with one square left over. I then crocheted the strips together in the opposite direction, with a ch2 at the corner where each line crossed. The squares were all supposed to be six inches, but they were actually a wide variety of sizes, as well as a variety of weights, textures, and thicknesses. I couldn't begin to match stitches, so I just stretched here and eased there, and they all lined up surprisingly well! I was even able to use up the last of my black scraps!

I took these pictures before I washed it, but it came through a machine wash and dry very well - no ends popping out, no unraveling, just nice and soft and very heavy and warm - too warm for Hawai'i, but I don't have any place but my bed to store such a huge blanket! LOL!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Granny's Heart

I made these little hearts out of Red Heart worsted weight yarn and an H hook. The yarn label is long gone so I don't know what the color is called - some kind of pink.

To start, make the first round of a granny square. There are lots of ways to start, to make this one: into a "magic circle" or chain circle, slip stitch then chain 5. Into the ring, 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc, ch 2, 2 dc. Join with sl st in the 3rd ch of the starting 5:

Pull the tail tight to close the middle circle. Do not turn, slip stitch into the first ch 2 space:

Make 5 dc in the center dc of the next 3dc group:

Slip stitch into next ch2 space:

5 dc into middle dc of next 3dc group:

Slip stitch into next ch2 space:

Finish off and weave in ends!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Warm Aloha

Hats made with wool from Homegrown Hawaiian Wool Company in Waimea. The owner raises sheep, then spins and dyes the yarn herself.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Project Linus 2008

Discount Fabric Warehouse Teams with
Project Linus for Make a Difference Day 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008, 9-4pm

Once again, Discount Fabric Warehouse, in Hilo and Kona, is teaming up with Project Linus in providing cheerful, handmade blankets for Hawai’i Island keiki in need by sponsoring a blanket drive for Make a Difference Day, Saturday, October 25, 2008.

There will be open sewing sessions for interested "blanketeers" at DFW on Saturdays in October (10/4, 10/11, 10/18) from 1:00 p.m. to 4:000 p.m. All are welcome to join us in creating blankets for Project Linus! There will also be a Crochet Sunday on October 12, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., where crocheters are welcome to bring their hooks and yarn to help create blankets.

This year all blankets collected during the drive will go to East Hawaii and West Hawaii Child Welfare Services. Our goal is to collect 420 blankets so that no child taken into foster care on the Big Island will be without a blanket to keep them warm and provide a sense of security and comfort.

Project Linus accepts handmade blankets in kid-friendly colors and patterns. Blankets must be machine washable and dryable, and can be quilted, sewn, knitted, or crocheted. All sizes are accepted, but there is a pressing need for larger blankets (40 inches by 60 inches) for older keiki.

Completed blankets can be brought to Discount Fabric Warehouse in Hilo and Kona year around but on Make a Difference Day, blanket donors will receive a $5.00 gift certificate from Discount Fabric Warehouse as a special thank you.

Blanket making “kits” are available at both DFW locations for $15. Each kit contains fleece fabric and instructions for making a “no sew” fleece blanket for Project Linus. Bring the completed blanket back to DFW on Make a Difference Day and receive a $5.00 gift certificate for your donation. If you wish to sponsor a blanket, purchase a kit for $10.00 and leave it at DFW for our “blanketeers” to complete.

Fabric and batting donations are also needed as well as volunteer “blanketeers” to help make blankets. Sign up at DFW for one of our upcoming open sewing sessions.

Service clubs are invited to participate in Make a Difference Day 2008 by holding sewing sessions at DFW to make blankets for Project Linus. Contact DFW to check for availability of their project room and sewing machines. For information about obtaining Project Linus certificates or patches for service awards, contact Project Linus Coordinators.

For More Information:
Discount Fabric Warehouse – Hilo: 933 Kanoelehua Ave, phone 935-1234
Discount Fabric Warehouse – Kona: 74-5605 Luhia St, phone 326-7474
Project Linus Hawai’i Chapter Co-Coordinator: Kathleen Stacey, phone 935-7495
Project Linus Hawai’i Chapter Co-Coordinator: Lynne Bautista, phone 959-0042
Project Linus email and website:,

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sudoku Afghan

I finally finished my Sudoku afghan. It was a birthday present for my brother, who loves the sudoku puzzles. If you've never done sudoku, it's hard to explain, but basically it's a puzzle with 9 rows of 9 squares. In each row, each column, and each 3 x 3 block, you have to put the numbers 1 through 9 with no repeats. That is, each row must have every number from 1 to 9, and each column, and and each block. The puzzle starts out with a few numbers filled in for you. The more numbers you start with, the easier it is to finish.

I find sudoku well nigh impossible, myself. My brain just doesn't work that way! LOL! For my brother and many like him, though, sudoku is completely addictive. He loves it so much he made some artwork that mimics the sudoku concept, creating a grid with different sizes and colors of circles instead of number squares. It was very pretty, and gave me the idea of making an afghan, using nine different colors. When I think of anything to do with squares, my mind just goes to afghans!

I started it at the end of July 07, and put it in the mail to my bro on Sept. 10. So it took a while, but not too long. I worked on it almost every day, for varying periods of time.

The first thing I did was pick the colors. I had to have nine colors that worked together and went with my brother's decor. His house has kind of dark, earthy tones in the furnishings, so I wanted the same kind of "autumn" colors and feel. I also wanted to incorporate one of my favorite color combinations - the six "rainbow" colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Finally, the yarn had to be easy to find and buy in a local store (and easy to get more of if I ran out!), washable, and durable. Red Heart to the rescue! My local Ben Franklin Crafts has a wide variety of RH in lots of colors, so I ended up getting it all there. The colors I got were: Ranch Red, Carrot (orange), Gold, Dark Sage (green), Soft Navy, Dark Orchid (purple), Country Rose (pink), Cornmeal (soft yellow), and Windsor Blue. I could not have been more pleased with the way the colors looked together.

The next step was to make nine squares of each color. I decided early on to use the Diagonal Box Stitch, or Corner Start Stitch, to make each square (Google for many websites with instructions). After a little bit of trial and error, I decided to make each square with 8 "blocks" on a side (8 increase rows and 8 decrease rows). To finish each square, I did the following edging with the same color yarn (starting the edging from the last row, without fastening off and reattaching): sc in the space between blocks, ch 2, repeat, with an sc in each corner. This made a simple yet small edging that made the squares very easy to put together. It also meant only two ends to weave in per square! Each one is about 6.5 inches square. Here is a picture of a finished square, in gold:

As I completed the piles of squares, I learned a few things. For one, I wove in the ends immediately upon finishing each square! If I had waited to do all the ends at the end, I'd still be doing them! LOL! But the biggest surprise was the difference in the thickness and texture of the yarn colors. Some colors (navy, orchid, gold) were so thick that I ran out of a Super Saver skein before making nine squares. Other colors were so soft and thin (cornmeal, carrot) that I had enough to make ten or eleven squares! I think if I ever did this again (ha!) I would make each square only seven rows. The smaller square would mean plenty of yarn in a Super Saver skein for nine squares, no matter what.

Next, I had to figure out the layout. Rather than completing a sudoku puzzle myself, I looked in the daily newspaper. Next to each day's sudoku puzzle is the solution to the previous day's. I just cut out one of the solutions. Then I copied the numbers into and Excel spreadsheet, and used the fill-in feature to color each square. Here's my diagram:

Once I had 81 squares and a layout, it was time to assemble! I chose RH Aran for the joining, I liked the way the off white looked with my colors. The joining had to be visible, to mimic the lines in a sudoku puzzle grid. Also to mimic the puzzle, I made nine blocks of nine squares each, 3 x 3. Like this:

For the joining, I did 2 sc into each 2 ch space on the square edging, and ch 1 over each sc. I did 2 horizontal lines, then 2 vertical lines, then went around the edge of each block the same way (2 sc, ch 1). For the block edging, I put 3 sc in each corner.

Here's my progress partway through the block construction:

Then I joined up the nine blocks. I wanted the extra thickness between the nine blocks, since the sudoku puzzles have darker lines between each block. I'm not sure I really succeeded in making these lines thick enough. I tried about a dozen ways to join the blocks and ended up just reversing my first joining method: sc in the chain spaces and chaining over the sc. It made a nice defining ridge, but I think it should be thicker on those lines.

After joining the blocks(again, two vertical, two horizontal lines), I went around the edge of the whole thing with the sc, ch method, then a row of sc, then a row of hdc.

And here - Ta Da! - is the finished product, spread on a queen size bed:

Overall, I'm pleased with it, with a few exceptions. For one, making 9 blocks to join meant a ton of Aran ends to weave in, and only a thin line of same color stitches to weave them into. I did a lot of knotting, so the blocks won't come apart, but it was very difficult to hide those ends. Also, you can see a little gap on the edges of the blocks where they are joined, where the line didn't cross from one block to the next. I don't like the gap, but I couldn't figure out how to fix it. At the time. As I was weaving in all those ends, I brainstormed some other ways I could have done the joining, but by then, I was committed and not about to frog a single stitch! LOL!

I think I've figured out a variety of ways to do such a design differently, like using a tapestry method and just changing colors in each row, but I can't imagine ever making another sudoku afghan! It was fun, but I think the next sudoku fan in my life gets a book or a calendar or something! LOL!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Lei Contest

Flush with success after making so many lei for Lei Day at work, I decided to enter the lei making contest at the local Lei Day festival, held on the first Sunday in May.

Anyone could enter a lei, and they had about 50+ entries! Including two from yours truly! Having never seen such a contest before, I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was totally outclassed. Almost all the lei entered were real flower lei, so beautifully put together you could weep. I wasn't the only one who entered an artificial lei, there were a few done by kids out of things like M&Ms and origami birds. I think mine were the only crocheted entries. I was pretty pleased with them, but no way anything artificial could compete with the gorgeous flowers, ferns, and seeds of the real thing.

Here's a shot of some of the entries on display. Remember, these are all real flowers and leaves:

Here's my two. I wasn't pleased with the display of the maroon on on the right - they hung it up kind of twisted. Still, I felt I could hold my head up among the other artificial lei makers! LOL! I just experimented until I came up with something pretty, I wasn't trying to emulate a particular flower.

The one on the left is made of a strand of fun fur and a strand of some old Red Heart Sport pompadour in a color they don't make anymore, Parakeet, which is like a bright turquoise. I just did a simple tube of sc going around in a spiral, seven sc around. The maroon one is a base chain of heavy rattail cord, the "leaves" made of two strands held together - some dark green chenille (it came without a label from my local LYS) and some Moda Dea Jai Alai fun fur type yarn in a beautiful variegated in shades of maroon and greens. The "leaves" were just three dc clusters with a picot on top of the middle dc. It actually looked very Christmassy, at least that's what the lady who was taking in the entries said! LOL!

Here is one of the six winners. Look how perfect and round and gorgeous it is. These are real flowers, orchids of some variety, I think. Pretty much all the lei in the pictures are made of real flowers - some of them so perfect they don't look real at all! However, you can see an artificial origami lei behind the winner.

The six winners - they all basically tied for first, there was no first, second, third and so on - were announced before the entertainment started and came up on stage to claim their prizes, which were, naturally, lei! But special lei, consisting of rolled up dollar bills strung together! Each winner got a $100 lei!

After they announced the winners and the entertainment began, all the lei in the contest went up for silent auction, with proceeds going to the Palace Theater. So I didn't get to keep my two lei, but it's for a good cause. I left right after the bidding opened, so I didn't get to see if anyone bid on, or bought, my two. I hope so!

I'm already plotting for next year. Besides suggesting that there be two contest categories, one for real flowers and one for artificial lei (LOL!), I think that elaborate is better. My preference is for more simple designs, but if I want a $100 lei, I better get fancy! I'm thinking of a doing something very dense and intricate using thread instead of yarn - think kind of a doily lei. Not that I ever make doilies. But I'm picturing dark green thread "foliage" and lots of tiny flowers in pink, purple and white thread. Hmmm.... at least I have a year to think about it! This year, I made both my entries the night before! LOL!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Lei Day 2007 Display

Since 1929, when a couple of Honolulu newspaper writers thought it up, May 1 has been "Lei Day" in Hawai'i. The idea is to celebrate the Hawaiian tradition of giving and wearing lei. The main celebrations are in Honolulu, with a Lei Day Queen and Court, lei making contests, and concerts. And all the newscasters were lei on the air that day!

At the library where I work, our Hawaiian Collection Librarian, Helen, decided to create a display for the lobby display cases based on Lei Day. She found lots of old books, magazines, and newspaper articles about Lei Day through the years. When she put out a call for artificial lei to put in the cases (no real flowers, since the display is for the whole month!), I volunteered to crochet some lei.

Right after I moved here, I bought two books, Hawaiian Lei in Crochet and Fancy Hawaiian Lei in Crochet. They're really great pattern books, beautifully illustrated, with instructions on using worsted weight yarn and regular crochet stitches to make all kinds of lei. (Both books are available on Amazon, by the way.) Needless to say, the lei are so much fun to crochet and I got a little carried away...

Helen wanted a lei for each of the eight Hawaiian islands, using that island's "official" flower. It turns out that my books had patterns for all the flowers, so I was good to go. I made seven lei, for all the islands except Ni'ihau, which is represented by shell lei. I didn't have a pattern for shells! Helen arranged them in the cases with a nice label that the lei were made by me. I'm famous! LOL!

Here's some photos of the lei in the display cases:

The orange one is Kauna`oa vine lei representing Lānai, and the other is the Kukui, or candlenut tree lei, representing Molokai. Orange yarn is TLC Essentials in Persimmon. Green yarn is Sugar 'N Cream cotton and off white is Caron Wintuk. I blocked and blocked the green leaves, but they would not stay blocked and curled up. They're supposed to be flat, they would look much better!

An `Ilima flower lei for O`ahu, made with yellow Caron Pounder yarn and green Red Heart:

The red Lehua flower for the big island of Hawai`i, and the pink Lokelani from Maui, all with Red Heart. That red lei was the biggest pain to make - the "flowers" are basically pom poms, tied in sequence on green yarn and twisted with the crocheted leaves. I hate making pom poms, especially when they're tied together like that!

Mokihana, twisted with a strand of maile, found only on Kaua`i, made with TLC essentials in Light Celery. The maile leaves are from some pretty dark green chenille that I bought at my LYS. It didn't have a label.

And finally, gray Hinahina from Kaho`olawe, gray Red Heart and green Caron Wintuk.

Of course, I didn't stop with the Lei Day display! Our library social committee asked us all to wear lei that day, so... I had to make lei for everyone, right? Here are most of the ones I made for my co-workers, festively displayed on, er..., my ironing board. Most are made with worsted weight acrylic from my stash. The fuzzy red one is a strand of Red Heart and a strand of some faux fun fur from the dollar store several years ago.

They did turn out well, if I do say so myself! I gave one to everyone in my department, who liked them enough to pose for pictures without protest!

Left to right: Cynthia with a bleeding heart flower lei, Laura with anthuriums, and Kristin (seated) with orange/gold cigar flowers and purple orchids. Kristin was one of several people who brought back the lei I had made them for Christmas (also crocheted from my books) to wear again.

Left to right: Brian in something with red fuzzy yarn that I just made up - not meant to represent any particular flower! - Avis with white daisies (and her blue Xmas lei that I can't remember what flower it's supposed to be), and Lynn with white ginger and her Christmas yellow ilima.

As you can probably see, the crocheted lei are meant to represent the flower, not duplicate it exactly! Some of them, you have to really use your imagination!

Of course, I wore one of my own lei, pink yarn roses, which my boss liked so much I gave it to her after Lei Day was over! The rest of the lei I made went to co-workers, including Helen who put together the display. She told me that the display lei were going to be stored in acid free boxes for future displays - ooh, la, la!