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The craft output of the last year has not been up to the usual level due to life events. I know I mentioned my mother's valve replacement surgery that was scheduled for last summer and ended up being last fall. What I didn't mention is the reason for the delay; my Dad died. I spent late summer and fall with Mom and my brother and didn't get home until early November, which is also why you didn't see any hints of NaNoWriMo last year. I wanted to do NaNo but there was just nothing for me to work with, not even enough to really get a character or setting started, and absolutely no energy to write with, especially not with nearly a third of the month passed already. It hurt a bit to skip a year but not as much as trying and failing would have.

Anyway, I did actually get some crafty things done in the second half of last year.

I made all the squares for an afghan for Mom, it required 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12" squares:

Circle Dance - 2" Circle Dance - 4" Circle Dance - 6" Circle Dance - 8" Circle Dance - 10" Circle Dance - 12"

Circle Dance - All Squares

And I did actually get some of it sewn together before I left, about a quarter, and I have sewn on it here and there since then, but I still have about a quarter left to go. I plan to take it with me to the mostly internet free zone of the cottage over the 4th of July weekend to hopefully finish the sewing. I don't expect the border to take long since I plan just single rounds of some of the colors, maybe all of them, maybe not.

Then, because sewing squares is really tedious, I crocheted a couple shawls for Mom. The intent was for her to crochet them, but the first yarn was not working for her; too textured for her to see stitches clearly.

Blue Beauty Shawl

The pattern called for two balls of yarn, to actually make the thing you would need four. I was willing to go out and buy a third ball, but when I ran out of yarn with just five shells left in the last row I wasn't willing to go buy a fourth. So I ripped back and made modifications. I removed every even numbered double crochet from each shell, replacing it with a single chain. This "recovered" enough yarn to be able to make the last five shells.

When I was getting the third ball of blue yarn I picked up a smoother yarn for Mom to give it another try.

Wine Beauty Shawl

She gave up in frustration. She hadn't crocheted in years (decades) and I honestly do not know if she had ever had a pattern to follow before. So I finished up for her, and knowing that I would not have enough yarn, and being really very done with driving to the next town to get more, I modified the pattern. I repeated the first lace pattern for a bit longer and then ended in the second pattern on a row that make nice points.

I think the first thing I actually worked on after I got home was this:

Chestnut Doll Shawl

The pattern is for a placemat, but I worked it with #10 thread with the idea that it might work as a shawl for one of my dolls. There's a knitted shawl pattern shaped like a maple leaf that gave me the idea.

Chestnut Shawl - Front Chestnut Shawl - Back

It ended up more of a capelet than a shawl, but it works. She doesn't really have anything it goes with at the moment, except maybe her golden skirt, but that's not a new situation around here. I've fastened it with a hair clip for now but I think I might sew on a button and just use the space between stitches as a button hole. Maybe a golden yellow button since my pink and lavender ones are too pale and the purple too dark.

I had a doll project nearly done before life exploded, just about twenty rows and four seams from finished. When I was home and felt like facing it again I finished it up:

Talar - Alex front Talar - Alex back

It's a knock off of an Alexander Wang design I saw on Pinterest. The larger gauge parts are close to exact copies, I zoomed in and counted stitches, but I was winging it when I did the finer gauge side panels. Dolls don't have human proportions so there would be some variation even if I did get the relative scales right. As it turned out I could have used fewer stitches in the side panels, at least from hip to waist, but after the annoyance of sewing the seams between large and small gauge I'm not likely to tackle it again.

So in those first weeks I was back home I was still rather... let us say... worn thin, from the summer. As most collectors will tell you, when you need a boost you tend to want to add to your collection. Dolls are expensive though, so I settled to telling Kris that after everything I wanted a doll, it's a common sentiment between us when we're having rough spots and it goes both ways. I generally just focus on making something new for the dolls I have.

Guess what she gave me for an early Christmas gift. :) He'd been in her collection for a while and didn't really "come to life" for her so she sent him on to me. By now if you follow my journal you know what comes next:

Alec's Sweater

There is always a sweater. More on that yarn in a bit.

Alec's wig is one I won in a raffle and while it wasn't horrible on him it felt a little light in color. So when I was over in Traverse City due to surgery (not mine, and can I please be done with hospitals for a few years at least??) I stopped at Joann's to see what they had for fake fur.

Alec - Portrait

Not horrible for a first attempt at a fur wig with cheap quality craft fur. It's a smidge big and perhaps not ideally shaped, but given how much I hate hand sewing it's not as bad as it could be.

Okay, the yarn.

I think I might be a bit obsessed.

I had a pair of slippers that I had worn through the soles of and darned and then wore through again, so I decided to reclaim the yarn from the uppers that wasn't in bad shape. With nothing to lose in the experiment I unplied the yarn into the four component singles, turned half of them end for end, and plied them back together in pairs.

Alec's Yarn

And that was the start of it. I also reclaimed the solid orange from those slippers (yes, they were loud), and two colors from another pair of slippers that I also wore out.

Orange overspun Pale Blue Ocean

So far everything had been reclaimed from knitting and was 4-ply worsted. However I had these two little balls of DK weight self striping yarn hanging around...

Orange Blossom

This was a 3-ply yarn so I couldn't do my ply flipping marl trick. Also one ball was basically a solid. So I tried something a bit more adventurous, after unplying I respun the singles. joining them into one long single while adding more twist. I then Andean plied the result. Andean plying involves wrapping your single around your non-dominant hand such that you can then drop it down around your wist as bracelet and access both ends to ply it back on itself. As chance would have it this will be a bit of self striping laceweight now, you can see the three stripe colors if you look at the top of the ball. There's not a lot of it, about 35 yards, so I haven't quite figured out what to knit with it.

And that was pretty much it, if I had a ball of yarn too small to knit a hat out of it got split and respun. I haven't photographed it all yet, but I do have one more, an almost before and after:

RHSS Primary - unplying Primary

Red Heart Super Saver in "Primary" being unplied on the left and the 2-ply marl  on the right.

I started this spinning thing with the cheapest of tools, a 3/16ths dowel I had on hand and a plastic container lid with a busted corner that I cut a circle from. When I was at Joann's I upgraded a bit by getting a wood disc for the thin dowel and a larger one for a 3/8ths dowel I also had kicking around.

Drop Spindles

The larger one is a bit too heavy for my taste so I don't use it much even though it holds more yarn than the small one. Neither of them holds enough for the amount of yarn that I want to work with eventually so I made a Navajo spindle (floor spindle? more peoples than the Navajo use them) and a receiver for it to spin in since I'm in the house and not just poking the end into a divot in the ground.

Navajo Spindle

It's a 3/8ths dowel and a 7" craft disc, the receiver is a bit of door trim with the cap from a juice bottle glued on with E6000. It works really nicely. Unfortunately for me my left hand, the one that does the spinning when I'm plying, doesn't like to use it for very long and I can easily see myself causing injury through stubbornness by ignoring or trying to work around the lump that forms in my hand if I use it too much. (This does not happen in my right hand when unplying, go figure.)

So my plans for taking an entire skein of cheap acrylic worsted and turning it into twice as many yards of pretty sock weight marl are mostly on hold until I build a spinning wheel. I have the free plans for the DODEC wheel and I have lurked around in the Ravelry group looking at the modifications people have made and some other designs of DIY wheels. I will have a wheel, I just have to free up the table saw and actually go buy wood and build it.

Also I will make some sort of tensioned lazy kate.

And possibly something more unplying specific to make that whole split the plies thing easier for large amounts of yardage.

Or I might show the plans to Uncle Randy when I visit Mom and see if he still does wood working in his spare time. :D

Date: 2015-07-01 12:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crystal-lilly.livejournal.com
I'm so sorry to hear about your father passing on. I'm glad you got to spend time with family.

As for your crafts, I'm still impressed with the output level. The colors you chose for the square afghan are lovely. Your squares also remind me of the Babette Blanket. (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/babette-blanket) The two shawls are lovely; I can certainly sympathize with altering the pattern so that you don't have to go get more yarn.

All of your doll clothes are awesome. I like the capelet, and your thread crochet stitches are very neat and even, it's great! I think a small button would be lovely on it. And your tiny knitting continually amazes me. Those sweaters are impressive.

And it sounds like you're having a lot of fun with your reclaiming and replying yarn project. I really like the color combinations. And I'm super impressed that you're making your own equipment. I'd like to see how your spinning wheel comes out, when you're done with it.

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