And Just Like That

Two years of my life pass.

Within those two years, a new baby, two new homes, more yarn than I should have had the good sense to purchase, and a new skill learned with a single hook, two hands, and a road full of good intentions.

Creating this labor of love required patience, fortitude, flexibility, and a HUGE basket to carry around all that and all those hexagons—more than 200 hexagons, no two the same—and the fifteen skeins of yarn it needed.

It is done. I can not believe it, but it is done.

Soon the afghan will make it’s way back home, the home where my heart is, to its rightful owner, my mother, for whom all the stitches were cast and carried. It may have taken two years to complete…

…but it is nothing compared to the time, energy, and love she has given me. No handmade object in the world can convey the admiration I feel for her and all that she’s done and continues to do not only for me, but my entire family. Yet hopefully the softness and warmth that these knots of wool and alpaca provide can remind her that she is always in my heart.

I love you Mom. I hope you like it.

Details ::
Inspired by the Haverhill Afghan by Garnet Hill
crocheted in Alpaca with a Twist’s Highlander yarn
using a combination of single crochet, and double crochet
stitched together with a mattress stitch.

Approximate Pattern ::
chain six, link to form a circle;
*three double crochets through the loop made with the chain, single crochet*
repeat * * 5 more times to complete six group of three double crochets, link;
change color;
*three double crochet in the gap between two groups of three; single chain; three more double crochet in the same gap; single chain*
repeat * * 5 more times to complete six groups of three double crochets, link;
change color;
*three double crochet in the gap between two groups of three; single chain; three more double crochet in the same gap; single chain; three double crochet in the gap between the next group of three; single chain*
repeat * * 5 more times to complete six groupings total of three double crochets, single crochet, three double crochet groups within the same gap, chain, then one group of three double crochet, chain in the next gap; link.

Rinse lather repeat for as many times as you can before you run out of yarn. Stitch, or crochet the hexes together, weave in ends, grab a nice long drink.

 

The Latest News

The good news: It’s almost done.

The bad news: Almost…

I don’t know how people do it. This afghan feels like an epic, never-ending battle to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the blanket; the yarn was amazing and the colors really strike a harmonious chord with me. But honestly, if it wasn’t a gift for my mother (that I gave her in pieces on Christmas in 08) I would have long ago given up. I am not an afghan person.

Almost… almost there…

Getting Closer

I have three projects that are 95-98% complete, and I’m trying my darndest to push through the final bit of finishing. One is the Manon sweater… I want to do something a little special with the button closures, but I haven’t figured out exactly what to do yet. I want to use an i-cord to “embroider” a pattern on either side of the ribbed band, but I just can’t seem to make up my mind how thin/thick to make the cord and what design to set that won’t overwhelm the beautiful peplum.

And I have this little baby sweater needing trim and buttons… and I also want to make up a bitty hat as well.

And of course there’s the hexagon blanket. I can’t believe that thing isn’t done. All I have to do is stitch up all the hexes together, which I actually kinda like doing, but somehow, it hasn’t been touched for the past month at least. Of course, having my mom stay with us to babysit me while I wait out these last few weeks (only days now!) definitely complicates things, but still!!

I did a design test strip to see how I should attach them, so at least that decision was made:

hex5
First attempt, a single crochet… or was it a double chain? I have no idea… I’m not really an experienced crochet-er.

hex6
The cross stitching looked great on one side…

hex2
but I didn’t really like the opposite side.

hex3
Then I tried chaining around the hexes and linking those together, but I was completely unhappy with the results. I think part of the problem is my lack of experience, but this made the hexes look so wonky and out of shape, I couldn’t imagine putting in all the extra time to make the blanket look even less polished. Rustic, fine… unshapely, uh, no thanks.

hex1
I don’t even remember what I was doing here… but I definitely didn’t like it.

hex4
For me, the mattress stitch really kept the focus on the hexes, so it became the obvious choice.

I have three rows complete, which leaves only, uh, how many does that leave? I’m busy counting something else at the moment.

Almost There

Last night, I had 204 hexes finished up and ready to attach to each other. Woot woot for me!

But when I started laying everything out on the table, I realized that I needed four more in order to make it all work out. I won’t even begin to tell you how complicated I managed to make the process by which I laid everything out, or how many times I had to go over every row to make sure that I didn’t repeat colors, or how long it took me to figure out that it just wasn’t going to work and I’d have to make a few more.

The thing is, I was so very low on yarn that I wasn’t sure I was going to have enough to finish up the four more I had left. And lemme tell you, it was close. The final hexagon was only completed because I found a cast off hexagon that I had ear marked for the smallest yarn monster who was constantly grabbing and running off with them. Of course, I’m still thinking I might make it a bit bigger, so that would require thirteen more skeins, but we’ll see.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to link them all together. I’m thinking either a crab stitch border in orange, or mattress stitching them which is more in keeping with the original afghan.

Meditation

Because of the lust I feel for the Haverhill Throw from Garnet Hill, I have started to crochet an afghan…

This is big news as, for the most part, I hate to crochet. And I have tried several times to knit a blanket, even a scarf–and please don’t mention that stole right now–and have never managed to finish a single one of those projects. Every one that was begun, has been ripped apart and the yarn recycled for something else. Now I am crocheting an afghan. It’s a crazy world.

When I first started, all I could think about was how many hexagons I had to make before I would be finished, and then I would sink into feeling overwhelmed at the sheer enormity of the task, a habit to which I have consistently conformed. I had never crocheted before this, and it has taken me a while to get started as I had to teach myself both how to crochet, and how to crochet this particular shape, the hexagon. Once the learning curve began to even out and I made it past twenty octagons, I found a rhythm and now I have at least seventy completed. Seventy! By concentrating on one row, one shape, one color, at a time, I got over that hump of stagnating inertia crippling any progress that might have been in favor of anxiety. It is a huge relief to know that I am trudging along at a steady clip and enjoying the work as I go.

It also helps that the fiber is delicious. I’m using Alpaca with a Twist’s Highlander, a blend of alpaca, merino, microfiber and viscose. I’m loving the little bits of tweed as well as the colors. Being able to switch from color to color in a short amount of time and chosing the combinations for each little guy has definitely kept my interest, and when I do make mistakes, it normally doesnt’ take so much time to correct.

Speaking of mistakes, this experience has been an excellent exercise in letting go of my perfectionist ways. Not that they’re entirely eliminated, but it seems that crochet is a little more forgiving than knitting. There are a few things I won’t let slip, but if I miss/add a double crochet here or there, I’ve found that it doesn’t really matter all that much, especially since I’m planning on making close to two hundred or so. Actually, I’m still not sure how many I’m going to make… enough to make a good sized afghan, but not a bed spread I guess.

One of the things I love most about knitting is how relaxing, and significantly mind-quieting, I find the repetition. It helps with the insomnia I’ve suffered for years, and it takes the edge off when my emotions get the upper hand and I lose my calm. It’s something I can do when the kids are playing and still manage to be somewhat present, and it makes those few shows that I do watch feel a little less like such a wasteful time sink. And these are things I never managed to feel while crocheting before, but that have now, thankfully, crept into this project. Everyday, this afghan is feeling less like a labor of love, and much more like a meditation.

Now, if only I could figure out what to do with that craft room!