Letting go

Sometimes even long-held plans into which you’ve sunk a lot of effort need to be let go.

unfinished cat cross-stitch

Once upon a time I acquired a pattern or kit for a cat-themed cross-stitch pillow. Since it had four cats and we had four cats, and there was a certain basic correspondence between the looks of these four, I decided to make it over in our cats’ images.

And I put a lot of work into it – twenty years ago or more.

unfinished cat cross-stitch

As much work as I put into it, there is a lot left. I never did figure out good colors for Tabitha (the unfinished grey and tan cat) – she wasn’t as high contrast as that stitching. And at this point the discoloration of the fabric and white thread may be permanent.

I used the pattern for O.D., the calico, in another setting already, and I’ll save what I have for the other three as well. The stitching itself, however – it’s time to let it go.

Freeform Cotton Triptych

We need a new bathmat. I threw out the purchased one because it was dirty and unwashable, and now we’re using a terrycloth one I made for my husband in his previous apartment – which had a tiny bathroom, and hence the bathmat is tiny. Of course I long ago planned to make a new bathmat. Where do we stand now?

crocheted cotton panels for bath mat

(No pun intended.) Three crocheted panels out of cotton yarn, to be joined with broad strips into a large rectangle, backed with another layer for thickness, and bordered all around to finish. They are in order of creation, left to right.

I had a few ideas that would have made a patterned mat, stripes and ridges and so forth, but when I tried them out I didn’t really care for them. Then I made the little cream-colored square with the spiral ridge, and thought, why not freeform?

I’m not sure I’d really done any freeform crochet before this. It was an interesting challenge. My thought with the first panel was to add L-shaped regions around the starting square until it became whole-bath-mat-sized, but that became boring and I struck out in a new direction for fun. With the later panels the challenge was thinking of things to do that were different. When truly stuck I would try to come up with the most disruptive thing I could do, in terms of the flow of stitching. Then trying to smooth things out again would prompt creative crochet.

Oh, and incidentally, I way overbought for this project. I looked at bathmat patterns on Ravelry to see how much yarn they typically used, and ended up purchasing 5 skeins of the cream and 3 of each of the three other colors. The three panels pictured took far less than a single skein of each!

Mystery solved, part 1

Around the time I began my hiatus, I finished clue 4 of 8 on the mystery afghan crochet-along I’ve been doing. After that I did clues 5 and 7, leaving 6 to afterward because it, like 8, joined motifs rather than adding them. Although I’ve made good progress on them, those two will come later – I’ve had to slow way down, so hopefully November, but possibly December.

mystery afghan clue 1 stitching Clue 1: Beginning of center medallion in dark purple, 12 dark gray popcorn grannies, two dark purple old rose hexagons.

I won’t lie, the beginning of the medallion was a little dull. This whole afghan has endless front post double crochet stitches. Fortunately I’m not in the crowd who were discussing having to space them out because of wrist pain. I’m not sure whether I’d ever made popcorn stitches before, but I’m pretty certain even if so I never made them for anything other than practice or experimentation. They have an interesting slightly pointed texture.

mystery afghan clue 2 stitching Clue 2: Two dark purple solid hexagons, four spiral hexagons in dark purple and either light purple or dark gray, two round ripple blocks in light purple and light gray, 10 light purple front post grannies.

I like spirals. However, the round ripple blocks might be my favorite motif of the entire afghan, though that may be primarily because of how the two light shades look together. In the photo, note that the solid purple hexagon on the right is upside-down and the one on top of the large motif is right-side-up. I got confused, probably in part because of the old rose hexagons of Clue 1.

mystery afghan clue 3 stitching Clue 3: Four light purple scallops blocks (the only motif worked in rows), two dark purple sun rays hexagons (I found these visually indistinguishable from the solid hexagons and may not have split them up correctly for assembly), four two-color hexagons in dark purple and either light purple or light gray.

The scallops were a nice diversion from all the rounds, and I like their look. Keeping my place in the four-row repeated pattern took occasional orienteering, though. I appreciate that JulieAnny spread out the smaller motifs so every clue had something to give you a break from the big motifs.

mystery afghan clue 4 stitching Clue 4: Middle of center medallion in dark and light purple, 12 light gray window pane grannies.

The window pane grannies were quite open, with first-round cluster stitches further condensed by third-round post stitches made on them. The middle of the medallion was tricky but interesting. I had to pull a decent amount of yarn out and redo sections. As painful as that was, I figured I shouldn’t spend as much time on this as I am and then let obvious errors go unfixed. It doesn’t make sense.

mystery afghan clue 5 stitching Clue 5: End of center medallion in light purple, 10 light purple front post grannies.

The end of the center medallion was no more interesting than the beginning, but at least the scenery was better. It was probably one of the largest single items I had worked on to date (well, I mended an afghan for my mother-in-law once, which I don’t think I showed here, and that clearly was larger). Front post grannies, well, are front post grannies.

mystery afghan clue 7 stitching Clue 7: Brick squares in light and dark purple, 8 dark purple old rose grannies.

The old rose grannies were nice, and indeed, the centermost rounds were identical to the old rose hexagons. The brick squares were the most frustrating and least satisfying motif of the entire afghan. After consistently failing to maintain anything approaching normal tension with 5 yarn overs and a hook insertion five rounds below, I made the tall stitches by yarning over once and pulling four loops up through strands of stitches in the four intervening rounds. It was still fussy and slow, and I’m still not thrilled, but my tension was much more reliable and I can hope that joining straightens them out.

If you want to follow along and get sneak peeks, I’ve kept ridiculously detailed notes on my Ravelry project page (Ravelry login required, I expect), and it’s one of only a few projects I’ve put on Rav as a work in progress. The previous ones were probably all from before I started this blog.