My First Crochet Blanket

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My First Crochet Blanket

Okay, so I know it has been a very long time since I have blogged. I have a big update in the works which I should have up soon. Until that is done, I wanted to share the crochet blanket I have been working on. It is for my son and I didn’t use a pattern.

Crochet, for me, provides flexibility and the ability to improvise. I love that it is quick, (I am a sucker for instant gratification.), and I love how portable and forgiving it can be. The drawback though is that it uses much more yarn than knitting and I often prefer the texture of a knitted garment to a crocheted one.

Many times I pick up some yarn and begin to crochet with an image in my mind and no pattern. I find that I am usually able to bring that image into reality through hooking and that is what I did with this blanket. For awhile now, I have contemplated trying a granny square as they are notoriously easy and also allow you to use up yarn ends and scraps. So I looked up an easy tutorial for a modified granny square on YouTube and began to build my very first blanket! (Find a written tutorial here!)

Building a blanket using granny squares gave me the instant gratification I need and still allowed me to create a larger project. My son, who is almost two, was thrilled to play with the squares of his new blanket while I continued working. (What a great distraction!)

For this project, I dug through my stash of yarns and selected a few worsted weight yarns in teal, grey, black and white. These were a combination of Red Heart, Bernat, TLC and a bag of anonymous roll ends I bought at discount from Zellers I think.

The process was quite simple, very portable and fast! This project is incredibly easy to pick up and put down at a moment’s notice as well. Because this blanket was for my son, the size isn’t too big; four squares by six.

I wanted to create a randomized pattern with both solid and multicoloured squares so I crocheted 6 teal, 6 white, some with teal centres and black or white borders, some with white centres and black or white borders, and even a few black ones. Finally, I bordered every square in grey, adding an extra row one side in the hopes of making the blanket a bit larger. To bring it all together, I used a slip stitch through one of the top loops of each square then I created a border in half double crochet.

Here are a few pictures of the process:

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I am a very “type A” personality so I needed a bit of help from my husband and Alli to add a bit of chaos to the pattern.

I really like how it turned out. I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got from my son when he saw all of the pieces finally as one. He was elated! In fact, I have not yet been able to weave in all of the yarn ends as he doesn’t want to give it up. He saw it on the floor, final product for me to appraise and immediately began to dance on it! It was very cute.

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AFHandcrafts Sale!

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I love spinning, I spend much of my time at behind my Walter Kircher spinnrad (spinning wheel) working on different styles of yarn from laceweight, to bulky and even art yarns!  Right now, I’ve started gathering quite the variety of yarns and I need to clear out my AFHandcrafts etsy shop to make room for the new stuff!  If you go to my shop, use the code spring10time to get 10% off your purchase!  The sale will be on until April 30th, 2012 or until the items are gone!

'Green Grass' corriedale handspun

Red corriedale handspun

Orange merino handspun

Happy crafting!

Dyeing commences!

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This spring I have decided to build my skills by learning how to take wonderful rovings, locks, fleeces and dyeing them with wonderful Dharma Acid dyes.  This past week, with wonderful weather, I was able to set up a preliminary dyeing station on the deck to try my first roving with the new dyes.  I am very, very happy with the results:

Aurora, Merino/Silk roving dyed with Dark Navy, Peacock Blue, Teddy Bear Brown and Brilliant Orange.

Aurora Braid, Merino/Silk

 

Once the dye was used up, I put in some BFL roving and tried something a little different, Brilliant Yellow, Fire Engine Red and after a few minutes, a touch of True Black.

Zombie, BFL roving

 

Because not all of the blue had full exhausted and because I did not change the colour, the Brilliant Yellow became lime green.  I can’t help but to think of all the fun zombie movies I love to watch with my husband.

These are currently for sale on my Facebook Page, seach: AFHandcrafts, or in my Ravelry stash page, search: nomadalli.

Happy crafting!

Spinning the ugliest yarn… On purpose!

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I love art yarns. I love looking at them, feeling them and spinning them myself! In the year I have been spinning, my forays with art yarn have been mild, beginning with yarn that became a big wool toque. I spun the colours together with no reason and it wasn’t until I knit with it that I realised how great it was.

To date, the Art Yarn I spun up using “Franklin” Art batt from Neauveau Fiber Arts, corriedale fleece from Wooly Wool of the West and some gold filament from my Mum-in-law, is my very favourite. I spun the art batt into a thick & thin single with lots of lumps and chunks, I then plied it with coils onto a single of combed corriedale top and to bind it all together I spun it loosely with gold filament. This really made all the wonderful colours and sparkles from the art batt pop!

Successfully making a skein of funky, colourful yarn can only serve as a gateway to even crazier things! Therefore, I started my newest art yarn with a collection of rolags from leftovers off my comb & hackle.

The pile consists of primarily corriedale, with splashes of merino, cotswold, mohair and synthetics. And yes, I plan on spinning the WHOLE pile of it! As for the wheel, I am using my Mum-in-law’s beautiful wheel.

She is a single-treadle, bobbin driven, large orifice wheel and I especially love her for plying! Notice the size of the bobbin? Yeah, they could be dumbbells for King Kong!

So last night I got into my spinning chair, turned on the newest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race and started treadling. After nearly 2 hours of Drag Queens and Futurama, I ended up with this:

Reds, yellows, and pinks! Oh my! And sadly, it isn’t half as colourful as the frocks worn by the Drag Queens… Sigh.

It is spinning beautifully, with some lumpy-bumpy bits and spots with sparkle. Currently, the plan is to spin up that pile into sock-ish weight singles and then ply them together using different techniques. I’m hoping to get a great big skein on nonsensical, squishy yarn to amuse and bewilder the masses.

Please check back over the next week to help me name the skein!

Fibre Diet, March 2012

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For the first time, ever, in my entire knitting life I have decided to go on a fibre diet for a whole month.  (Insert shocked sounds here.)

Yes, I, Alliston will refrain from purchasing fleece, roving, add-ins, and yarn from March 1 – 31, 2012, except in the event that the items are needed for a custom order.  (Yeah! Loophole!)

As of today, March 12th, 2012, I have not spent any money on these items. I am proud of myself because I am an avid Ravelry user and am never far from anything fibrous.

I decided to stop my purchases of anything squishy and shiny so I can dig down to the bottom of my fibre bins to see all the wonderful stuff I have accumulated in a little over a year of spinning.  And once I’ve emptied those bins, I can go on to my vast and varied yarn collection.

I guess I have been able to keep myself busy planning for the upcoming craft markets I will be attending in Edmonton:

March 24 & 25, 2012, On the Spot Pop-up Craft Fair, 10720 – 124 street, Edmonton, AB.

This will be my first show with On the Spot, and I am looking forward to meeting the organisers and aligning with such a great group!

April 14th, 2012, Handmade Mafia, 10335 – 84 Avenue, Edmonton, AB.

This will also be my first show with the Mafia.  Unfortunately I was ill for the last show and had to cancel my attendance in early March.

Apart from craft shows, I have been very fortunate to share my spinning talents with my Mum-in-law, Noreen Crone-Findlay.  She has used many of my yarns in her weaving projects and I am very happy to share!

Happy crafting!

The Great Toque Marathon: finale!

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Now that my Xmas and winter weather knitting rush has quieted, I can get back to blogging and building my Etsy store! I was very happy to receive an email from the customer who purchased the 10 toques from my Great Toque Marathon Part 1 & Part 2. The toques were enjoyed by all over Christmas as well as out in Banff and Lake Louise, AB.

I was very pleased that the toques helped the family to bond and keep warm in the cool weather. I can only imagine they bewildered looks wherever they travelled. According to my customer, they were helpful in spotting each other on the busy Banff sidewalks!

I’m very proud and happy that I was able to help welcome French visitors to Canada in style. Bienvenue!

Christmas with warm ears!

Thank you to Jan & her family for sharing their Christmas photos.

Fluffy mail: destashing gold!

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I love Ravelry! It’s a wonderful place to meet new people, find interesting patterns and get unusual items!   At the end of January I saw a “destashing” post by a crafter, she was selling off her stash of fibres.  I jumped at the chance to purchase a variety of fibres, locks, roving, silks, and add-ins. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

I was amazed at the variety found in this large box.  Mohair locks, silk roving, wool roving, and silk noil!  All softer than the next!  My favourite was a huge 4oz bag of lime green dyed fibre and lime green mulberry silk roving that I hope to spin into yarn for my newest obsession, unique scarves!

Upon investigation by Bubba Jones, I received approval to add these fibres to my stash.  You can see the lime green fibre on the lower right side of Bubba and the silk roving on the lower left side!

Now my stash has grown by 2 pounds of bright colour and silky fibre.  Adding to my collection of washed locks, mohair roving, dyed alpaca roving, colourful corriedale roving, firestar and silk hankies.

But now I have to ask, What’s in your stash?

My box!

 

Sale for readers!

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The ladies at Sheepish Creations have given me a code to share with you all!  Use fire10star in an Etsy purchase and you will receive 10% off your order at checkout.  This code is only good until February 15th, 2012.

Ecru Firestar, 2oz

Sheepish Creations is where I purchase my natural fibres, like kid mohair locks, Firestar.  They have a wonderful selection of silk hankies, braids and even a roving club, based on 1940s Broadway musicals! I would high suggest checking out their store!

AFHandcrafts Etsy Store

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At long last and with great pride, I can announce that my Etsy store, AFHandcrafts is now open!

I have a small collection of knit and crochet items! This is a uni-sex felted toque made from Corriedale handspun yarn, it is super-warm and very large.

Felted Handspun wool toque

I also have my hand-dyed, handspun yarns, perfect for knitting, crochet or weaving.  I am very happy to have my yarns used by the wonderfully talented Noreen Crone-Findlay, most recently in her Woven Mermaid!

Merino Handspun yarn

Finally, I am very happy to share my newest passion. Creating combed top for spinning and felting.  Below is wonderfully soft top made from Corriedale roving, Mulberry silk roving and shiny, shiny Firestar!

Hand combed top - Grey

I will be adding more items as I make them, and as always, custom orders are welcome.  Please come by and see what I have in stock!