Finished! First Joined-Motif Blanket

Last we spoke, I was struggling hardcore to finish a blanket. This thing took over six months of my life, once I had done the research and bought all the yarn, etc. Realistically, we’re talking nine months in total.

I became stuck when I had a stack of squares to finish with weaving in all the ends (I counted–almost 300 of them). Thankfully, I had woven some in as I went along, but the task was still daunting by the time I had to finish those up before moving on to joining.

Joining.

That’s another chapter of the tale that I thought might make the whole blanket go down in flames. I had already started, frogged, and started over a Join-As-You-Go owl, with the extremely popular African flower motif pattern that Heidi Bears uses for her intricate designs.

I think that trying a JAYGO pattern before I had ever successfully done even a simple motif blanket was definitely putting the cart before the horse.

Fortunately, I had been inspired last year to purchase access to a wonderful class on Craftsy, called Joining Crochet Motifs with Edie Eckman, who is a fabulous teacher. If you have ever wanted to learn the intricacies of creating granny squares and want to know more than one way to join (and finish) a blanket, absolutely download that class! They go on sale pretty frequently and you get lifetime access. Just that one class has been a lifesaver for me, and in fact, it’s what helped me finish my blanket.

I had done some of the “homework” from the class last year, but needed a refresher. (The instructions on this particular pattern simply said “join by slip stitch,” which was not helpful at all. It assumes that one has already mastered joining squares together.) I simply went to the Slip Stitch Seam part of the class to get tips on what to do, and the joining up of the squares flew by so much faster than I thought it could. It still took me several hours on and off on a Sunday, but once the joining was finished, I was able to weave in the ends and focus on the border.

When it came time to do the border, I ended up doing the first two rounds as directed by the pattern. Then I did a cluster of two half-double crochet stitches in the chain space of the previous round. Lastly, I did a double-crochet picot stitch all the way around. It was the first time I’d done a picot and it took me a while to get the hang of the technique. I wound up doing two double-crochet stitches, a picot, and two more double-crochets.

I put the blanket in a mesh laundry bag, threw it in the washer on gentle, and after laying it flat while it was damp, I put it in the dryer on low for about 20 minutes. It came out extra soft and cuddly, ready to wrap around some playful kids.

The blanket was sent off to my friends and they sent me some adorable photos of their kids goofing off with the blanket as the backdrop. A couple of them are below.

I couldn’t be happier with the end result, especially knowing my friends will get a lot of use out of this blanket for years to come!

❤ ❤ ❤

Tunisian Color Block Throw

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Trashed: A Crochet-Fail Story

Not too long ago, I wrote about how I was trying my hand at Tunisian crochet. Still loving it, although I had to shelve it for a little bit while I worked on other projects and orders.

One of those other projects that I have been undertaking is learning different joining methods for motifs. Specifically, I wanted to become completely comfortable with JAYGO, or join-as-you-go.

I came across the designer and blogger Heidi Bears, who puts together the most beautiful patterns and dolls using the African Flower motif, and knew I had to make one of her designs. I pored through her patterns until I found one that looked reasonable and which she deemed a good one for beginners. (For the record, it is this one.)

After much research and planning, I bought a bunch of colors of sock yarn and I got started making the motifs. I read through the entire pattern and the perused her joining tutorials. I felt ready.

While it definitely took me hours a little while to get the hang of it, including double checking what I was doing with a YouTube video here and there, I eventually and successfully made my first series of joins. I was on my way! Emoticon small

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I carefully went through the pattern little by little, making the various required shapes and joining them. I found my groove and thought I would have this thing done before June was over, easily.

But my grandest project to date–my “Titanic,” if you will–struck a proverbial iceberg when I realized waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too late that I had joined one too many sides of a heptagon (7-sided shape).

Just keep joining, just keep joining....

Just keep joining, just keep joining….

I did my best to fix it; I thought I was being quite ingenious, even, for coming up with a workaround. Alas, it still wound up being a fail. I ended up with a lumpy body with the hole for the head being in the wrong place (not to mention having what looked like a dent sticking out of its backside).

The Iceberg

The Iceberg

I tried cutting just the joined yarn and saving the motifs but it was not to be borne. I was going to have to redo all of my motifs and start again.

There are some valuable lessons to be had, here, but I’m not gonna lie: it reeeeeally sucked to know I would have to repeat all of the motifs I had spent hours on already.

The two quasi silver linings I managed to dig up were: 1) I’ll get to re-order the motifs more strategically the second time around so that half the owl’s body isn’t half dark, half light. 2) When I went back to study the JAYGO method again, I learned that I may have been doing something slightly off with my join method and there may be a way to make it even flatter than it was the first time around.

In any case, some life events have recently caused me to set aside my Owl Redo but I will get back to it and you shall absolutely see the end result when I have conquered this thing. (Maybe this should be called the FAYGO method: Fail-As-You-Go.)

If you have tried your hand at one of these designs or any JAYGO method, I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you may have. This is definitely a work-in-progress, considering I just crashed and burned with my first attempt.

Before I deflated it and started all over *Taps playing*

Before I deflated it and started all over *Taps playing*