Some crochet finishes

Lately, it seems like my knitting and cross stitching blog buddies have been able to enjoy my blog posts more than the crocheters. Today, this one’s for you, my crochet friends. I’ve finished a few crochet projects.

At long last, my Tunisian crochet afghan is so totally done! I love it. This morning I spread it out on my living room sofa so we can have a view of it that will never be possible in its every day use, since it will be wrapped around somebody or scrunched up some other way. When not keeping someone warm, it will be folded up neatly and lurking in a closet somewhere in my house.

afghanentire

If you speak Spanish, you can create a baby-sized version of this afghan following this YouTube video:

I had a lot of fun working on this afghan. It’s really simple to do. I added more blocks and also Tunisian crocheted a border around it. So, it’s pretty easy to adapt the pattern to larger sizes. Just add more around the central design made of textured blocks. You could also make the blocks larger or smaller, depending on how big or small you want the blanket to be.

I also finished my larger bucket bag to accommodate my sock knitting habit. Now I can put washing and drying finished pairs of socks on hold a bit longer and just let them accumulate in the project bag. I used a canvas fabric I bought at the market a few years ago for the liner. The draw string is just a strip of single crochets.

The warmer weather got me in the mood for some thread crochet, so I made a pineapple doily I once created about 25 years ago. Yes, I still have the discontinued Better Homes and Gardens book. I have no idea who has the doily I made in my preteen years. The book in question is Forever Favorite Crochet, in case you’d like to find a second-hand copy of it. It’s a really complete book, and, although from the middle of the 1980s, it has plenty of things that will look in style now – even the clothes! It really helps that crochet clothing is creeping into the mainstream fashion industry these days. The amazing aspect of the patterns in this collection is that the clothes were so totally not cool to wear in the 1980s. If you dared walk around in a crochet sweater in 1987 – or earlier – people would think you were a bit nerdy or had recently emerged from a cave. Anyway, here’s the doily. In the book it’s called “Five-side pineapple doily.” It took me just a few hours to make. It’s super easy and a beginner could make it without a hitch.

foreverdoily

It’s so totally not difficult that I didn’t even bother to iron it before taking a photo. It lies flat without really needing to do much fussing.

Now that it’s getting warmer I need to get cracking on my cabled sweater and just finish it off before it gets too hot to hold it in my lap. Then I can spend the late spring and entire summer cross stitching as well as crocheting and knitting lighter, cotton projects. I really want to get a lot of thread crochet done this season.

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SAL Update 15 April: “Pandora’s Box”

As predicted, I’ve slowed down on my blackwork sampler “Pandora’s Box,” a free design by Elizabeth Almond. I’ve got the first block done and I’ve almost got the border completed in preparation for the second block.

Pandora3

Comparing my progress with last month’s update, I’d say I’ve kept my steam up well enough for this. I must admit that stitching on the border is extremely boring. The up side is that it’s quite possible to enjoy cocktails, wine, beer, or all three while doing it. As a matter of fact, drinking while stitching up the border is far better than not combining this activity with alcohol.

I made some detailed photos of the new adornments added to the sampler, which are two little flowery blackwork squares. The detail on the left is just to help orient where everything is in relation to other designs on the sampler.

 

This is a SAL, which means I’m not stitching away all by my lonesome. Why not check out the marvelous projects the other SAL participants are working on?

 

Yet another crochet bucket bag in progress

I’ve been using my crochet bucket bag to hold all my sock projects together as I work on them. The trouble is, I’ve become lazy about washing finished pairs of socks to dry them and put them away. It’s just easier to wash and dry finished pairs of socks in batches and it probably saves on water (go environmentalism!). Mostly, though, it’s lazier, or at least that’s my motive behind letting the sock pairs accumulate in my project bag. Needless to say, I needed a bigger bag. So, I’ve started a new one. The colors are different and the dimensions are a bit larger, but the concept is the same: Stripes of double crochet ripple stitch which will end at the top with a band of holes to accommodate a drawstring, and a shoulder strap will be eventually added, too.

Photo Apr 06, 20 12 17

The yarn, in case you’re curious, is sport weight cotton I bought at the mercadillo, an open-air market that conveniently occupies the major roadway in my neighborhood on Saturdays. The market in this city often has lots of good craft supply buys. In the case of this yarn, it was leftover. The Spanish company that used to manufacture it, Lanas Stop, went out of business two years ago or so. I can’t remember how little I paid for it, but I’m sure it was a steal. If you ever visit Spain you should try to find out when the local mercadillo will be on in whatever city or town you’re in. In Madrid and southwards you will often hear the term el rastro used instead of mercadillo. They are synonyms. Knitters, crocheters, sewers, and embroiderers alike are always bound to find something juicy to add to the stashes, parting with little money, of course!

I’ve also been knitting my tourquoise Kalajokis, which I wrote about last week.

Not quite half a pair

For WIP Wednesday I have some progress to report on my Kalajokis. Feeling tired prevented me from finishing the toe on the first sock last night, so I’ve got almost one sock completed.

halfapair

If you think the photo is blurry, you should see the other fifty million photos I took of it! I gave up because I have a job and other things to do. Besides, it’s not the completed project, it’s just a WIP.

I have not been monogamous with my socks. I have also been knitting on my Saint Enda sweater, and I’ve made it halfway up the first sleeve. The biscornu conveyor belt has also been worked on and on the weekend I did some more backstitching on my “Dragon of the Mountains.” The details on my dragon are certainly coming along slowly. In part, it’s intentional. I’m being very careful to make sure it looks “just so.” There is, however, a lot of detailing that is fiddly. The piece is only seven inches wide, but it might as well be a mural to cover the Great Wall of China.

Now wouldn’t that be a project to work up? A Great Wall of China cozy. While we’re at it, the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty could probably use a cozy or two, as well.

Why must expensive things crash to Earth?

Today’s “Off Topic Monday” post is all about space stations that crash to the Earth. My interest in this began with wasting my time on social media. But then, after doing a little bit of web searching, I started to think about how politics can cause public money to be wasted in the interest of maintaining an image of reducing public spending. Are you really cutting down on budgetary bloat if you allow your investment to burn up in flames? All that past money spent, all those assets, have been trashed. It’s hard for me to see the savings. It’s like buying something you’ll never use just because it’s on sale. The marketing tells you you’re saving but all you’re doing is spending unnecessarily.

My interest in this topic was awakened when someone from my friends list on Facebook shared a fake news story. It claimed to have received reports of the Chinese space station, Tiangong-1, crashing into Mt. Katahdin, a beautiful place in my home state, Maine. As with most things I see on Facebook, I did some fact checking with Google to discover two things: 1) the space station had not even crashed to Earth yet; 2) I had forgotten all about Skylab!  I was just a toddler when Skylab plummeted to Earth to leave debris in an Australian town. Like the Chinese craft that crashed into the Pacific Ocean yesterday, the USA allowed its very own space station to fall to its demise in 1979. It’s unclear why China’s space program gave up all hope on their station but we all know why Skylab fell: It was an unintended accident on NASA’s part, and a political move on the part of Congress.

The story of NASA’s marvelous achievement of launching, maintaining, and using a laboratory in outer space is both amazing and sad. Remarkably, this school bus-sized hunk of technology was put into orbit around our planet as early as 1973, something I had either forgotten or did not know. It had a computer system, solar observation deck, and laboratory equipment for research and the manufacture of materials. Four crews visited the station to do scientific research and experiments. They even had a program for schools which allowed students to make suggestions for experimentation. Some of those experiments were actually carried out and video taped for teachers to use in their classes. According to an article published in The Washington Post the same year as the station’s return to Earth, it cost $2.6 billion just to get the space station designed, built, and put into orbit in space. Mind you, I’ve cited an article from 1979, so just think of how much money that would be these days, taking inflation into consideration. That’s a lot of billions.

According to the same Washington Post article, which details the long story of Skylab’s demise, budget cuts to the space program had just as much to do with the ultimate end to this project as with having miscalculated – unavoidably, by the way – the number of years the station could remain in orbit. I’m not going to get into the science of the whole thing. The article I cited above summarizes it all very well and I encourage you to read it if you’re curious. To keep the story short: NASA actually had longer-term plans for Skylab and wanted to boost its position in its orbital path so it could continue in space. Unfortunately, the budget for developing the space shuttle program that was intended to eventually lift the space craft’s position had been slashed on several occasions. Skylab’s need for a little lifting happened earlier than expected and, thanks to politics, the first space shuttle had not yet been completed. NASA had even planned to get a shuttle developed well before the originally anticipated fall out of orbit for the station.

In the end, politics killed the US government’s first space station. In the interest of making it look like the government was cutting down on excessive spending it basically allowed billions of dollars of equipment to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. I wonder how things might be different now if Skylab had been allowed to continue its missions in space. Also, I wonder if American politics will ever permit budgets to defend past investments as well as look to the future. Skylab seems to be the poster child of politicians’ inability to budget well enough to keep billions of dollars from burning into flames.

China’s perceived need to trash government money spent on a space station is still not really clear. I wonder if the causes are similar to those of Skylab’s destiny?

“Socks on a Sofa” FO

I’ve finished my version of “Socks on a Plane” which I call “Socks on a Sofa.” My version is different because, instead of the standard plane, I used a sofa; there’s a wedge heel without a flap; I started with more toe stitches; and I ended with more cuff stitches.

I think these were a pretty fast knit. They were also fun to make, which helps speed up the process, for sure.