Madrid month

This month of June has brought lots of things. One of them has to do with the weather. I live in a country that is very dry and complains of the lack of rain. There’s an old rhyme that goes like this: “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” I have no idea what the heck plain the rhyme talks about. Spain has a very rugged, bumpy terrain. Anyway, within the valleys there are some nice stretches of land – brief ones – but they are not, strictly speaking, what we might envision as plains. The rhyme is featured in the comedy Pygmalion which is also known as My Fair Lady, so maybe George Bernard Shaw was just making a little joke about Spain having plains. The flat lands don’t look like plains, to me, but rather like desert interrupted by hills.

Anyway, the rain here is quite excessive, at least for my domestic existence. So far this fair city of Valladolid has seen about two weeks of nonstop rain storms. It’s getting quite damp. Damp and cold. Usually by now – where I live, at least, – it’s hotter than hell itself. Not this year. June seems a lot like April and February. Chilly. I’ve washed, dried, and stored my wool sweaters and wish I hadn’t. It gets so cold at night sometimes that there can be some ice mixed with the rain. But hey, I have some nicely newly done afghans. I’m under one right now.

This month’s theme also links to having to be in Madrid an exaggerated amount of time. June here in Valladolid is usually hot. A Madrid June is hotter, usually. I’ve been wearing jackets there to stay warm this month. Totally weird! One of the most amazing temperature quirks in Spain’s capital is that the subway feels like room temperature. Usually by June it gets suffocatingly hot in the stations.

Anyway, let’s get to my point: All people interested in crafts should rejoice about going to Madrid because the biggest tourist magnet, called “Kilometer Zero,” or “Puerta del Sol,” is next to the ultimate craft supply district. After having your photo taken with a person disguised as a huge version of a cartoon character, taking photos of the big “Tío Pepe” sign, and checking out the Plaza Mayor, you can shop for craft supplies. I’m convinced that craft addicts could spend an entire day in this area of the city. This is unusual for typical tourists, who perhaps spend a couple of hours there.

Another funny thing is that craft supply stores in Spain also sell lingerie as well as regular old underwear. So, if you happen to need some hosiery and panties, you can get them along with your yarn!

Anyway, I have had to be in Madrid, so one day I shopped for craft supplies. Quite the bargain. If you ever go to Madrid, and you like to do crafts, you will no doubt visit first “Kilometer Zero” which is “La puerta del sol.” Just off that, you’ll find all this (caution: photo montage ensuing):



This looks really good, doesn’t it? I have to say: it’s awesome. Crafters míos, go to these shops. Buy what you like. Keep them alive. Learn a little Spanish beforehand, though, because in these types of stores you have to ask for things. The clerk stands behind the counter with the merchandise. You order your stuff and the shop assistant retrieves it for you and rings it up at the register. So, if you’re looking for a particular item, make sure you know the word for it so you can ask for it. Knowing your numbers will also get you far.

From the photo gallery you might recognize the name of a shop, “El Gato Negro.” That’s where I got my yarn for the crochet sweater I designed and offered for free here on this blog. They sell wool by weight, so you can ask for it in units of 100 grams. I’ve also included a picture of Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. El Gato Negro is right next to it, on Calle de la Sal (that means “Salt Street”).

And what did I buy? I bought some canvas at the fabric shop which calls itself a sedería-lanería, which means a silk and wool shop. They also have other fabrics made of cotton and, of course, canvas. I needed the canvas for my dragon project. The place had exactly the right color I needed, which is a kind of orange-red.



The big crazy afghan

I’ve crocheted a lot of afghans in my life, but this one is special. It could be that I feel accomplished because I mostly made it up on my own, improvising a bit. I did get some help from Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks, but I sewed my blocks together with my own ideas and improvised the “filler,” which are random stitch patterns. I even made up my own border for it on the fly!

It was really hard for me to photograph this, so I decided to include different angles on it, including draped over a door. I really wish I had a yard. So many of my blogging buds take a nice panoramic photo of their afghans in their back yards so you can see the whole thing. I live in an apartment in a pretty big city, and it’s just not feasible to drag out an afghan like this and try to spread it over some public space other people are using. I considered trying to get to a public park, but then there was the time factor. I don’t think it would have been a good idea, anyway, because even public parks are full of people using up just about anything that might hold a spread-out blanket.

As you can see from the last two photos, I made up an interesting border with different colored stripes, some lacy, others with a little texture. The most time-consuming task was the multi-colored bobbles with the dark blue background. I wanted to do them as I would with tapestry crochet, but the bright colors showed through the dark blue and looked pretty bad, so I had to cut and weave in ends for each color. I am so glad I did that, though, because it just adds that extra little “umph” I wanted for it.

This afghan will spend most of its time on our bed. I’m confident it will make its way to the living room occasionally.

Now that I’ve finished this afghan I only have one knit/crochet WIP going, which is a pair of socks. This means I’ll be looking for something new to start pretty soon.

Why not buy me a coffee?

SAL Update: “Pandora’s Box” May 27

Well, this time around I stitched a little bit more on my “Pandora’s Box” project, emphasis on “a little bit.” A couple of weeks ago I spent an evening stitching up exactly one square, which is a picture of a butterfly with a spider dangling in the corner.

Photo May 27, 14 04 20

It isn’t exactly “done” as in done because it needs beads, which I’ll add later when I’ve completed all the cross stitching and blackwork.

As always, you might see some interesting projects if you check out what other SAL participants are up to:


A cold and dreary day

It’s gray, rainy, cold, and I have no FOs. I didn’t post anything this week, so I suppose I can report on my progress on my afghan.


It isn’t far from being finished, which is cool. Right now I’m crocheting around the edges. I want a border that is as wide as any one of the squares in the main part of the afghan.

It’s been lots of fun to crochet this project which is no doubt why it hasn’t taken me long to finish it. I just consulted a book with afghan squares, chose a few patterns I liked and went with the colors I had. Everything is arranged in stripes. I’ve alternated strips of squares with randomly selected stitch patterns. I bought yarn especially for this, but I could imagine using scrap yarn for something like this. Of course, it wouldn’t look as planned as mine does, since I selected the colors for the different strips, but it would still look crazy and colorful.

It will be done when it’s large enough to cover my bed. So far it covers my sofa, so I’m pretty close to the end.

So done Saturday!

I was in Madrid yesterday, which means I did not get the chance to post about my latest FO, which is a sweater. It’s an Alice Starmore design called “St. Enda”

I haven’t blocked it yet (meaning I haven’t washed it and laid it out flat to dry), so it isn’t “just so,” and I was in a hurry to take the darn photo so I didn’t fuss with getting the sleeves to sit exactly right on my arms, but here’s a general idea of how it looks on me (I love it!).


I guess I kind of like the fact that the sleeves are turned out a bit so you can appreciate both the underside and “top” end of them. The background texture is just as beautiful as the cables, don’t you think?

This is the second time I’ve done a saddle shoulder, and I learned from my first experience. This time, I made the sleeves a bit longer so it the sweater doesn’t ride up on my shoulders and doesn’t give my sleeves that “high water” effect. I can raise my arms up in the air and still have enough sleeve to cover my arms without the whole jumper riding up. I imagine I can also wear a coat over it without having it ride up, either.

Of course, I didn’t follow the instructions for finishing (haha!). I didn’t bind off the stitches for the back or the front and I used garter stitch selvage on the ends of my rows. I did bind off the sleeve caps. Instead of sewing the saddles on I just knit them on using the live stitches at the shoulders. I crocheted the sleeve caps to the body (it looks totally invisible) and I mattress stitched the side seams for the body. One of these days I should make a tutorial for crocheting parts of sweaters together when you have bound off edges. It’s so much easier than “fake grafting” and looks a lot more invisible.

Hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to have a look at all your crafting stuff. I’ve been behind on the blogging and the blog reading.

So distracted…

I’ve been so distracted by so many things. Most of them aren’t things I want to discuss here. However, I must say a major crafting distraction has been the sudden dipping of temperatures in May. I suppose to make up for the unusually warm autumn we had last year, well, spring has decided to be unusually cold here in May.

My spring idea was to get going on lots of thread crochet and cross stitch and really turbo up on that throughout the warmer months. Here at home we have enough sweaters each to last us hundreds of winters with even changes in fashion and body weight.

But then, the cold weather started up again. I put down the thread crochet and the cross stitch and picked up the St. Enda sweater I cast on ages ago. I’m working on the first sleeve, still. I had to rip it out and start over because I miscounted increases BY A LOT. It is the typical consequence of leaving a project abandoned for a month or two and forgetting what the numbers were supposed to be. That’s OK, though, because the sleeves work up pretty fast.

As you might recall, I finished an afghan. With the chilly nights I decided to start another one. I decided to take some crochet block patterns from Jan Eaton’s 200 Crochet Blocks and sew them together in strips, alternating those strips with other stripes made up of random stitch patterns. So far my favorite strip is of the multi-colored bobbles.


In two weekends of marathon crocheting and binge watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the series, not the film), I think I’ve got half of this done! I had some purple and gray yarn left over from the previous afghan I completed, so I just bought some random colors by the same manufacturer to make this one. I might have to go back to the shop and buy a skein or two more to create a border for it.

We really need another afghan for next year, anyway, so it’s a productive way to be distracted! It will serve its double duty of sometimes living on the bed and other times sneaking into the living room. I must lament that one of our afghans, which I crocheted a few years ago, is beginning it’s long, slow demise. It’s been dragged around the house from sofa to bed and from bed to sofa quite enough and is just coming apart and basically degrading. The best part about afghans that die is that you can make new living ones to replace them.

SAL Update: “Pandora’s Box”

I haven’t really been working much on my “Pandora’s Box” blackwork project. Participating in the SAL, however, requires me to confess on my blog that I haven’t done much on the days I’m required to talk about it.

Confession: All I’ve done is get the border more complete in preparation for adding more blocks. That means, in total, I’ve devoted thirty minutes to the project since I last posted about it. If you’d like, you can look at the photos in my previous SAL update and imagine it with the gray border extending all the way to the right of the piece.

I’m sure other SAL participants have made more progress on their projects thanb me. Why not have a look?