Month: May 2015

Marvel Comics Blanket

Marvel Full Cut

Inspired by looking back at the Avatar Blanket, I decided it was time to make another large blanket this year. This time, I took my newly acquired crocheting skills and made this monster. This project went from May 2014 to January 2015. The finished product is about 6′ x 5’6″. And I ran into quite a few problems along the way with this one.

For starters, I made this whole thing in one shot. As in, I chained 299 stitches and just crocheted off of them. No individual pieces to be sewn together, so no boring part stitching it together, right? Well, on the one hand, that’s true, but at the same time, my crocheting does not like to hold the same tension throughout. I have to say that that is one thing that knitting has over crochet–tension is just so much easier with knitting, since you can’t be any tighter than the diameter of the needles. Anyway, the tension apparently got tighter the longer the blanket got, so the top is definitely narrower than the bottom. Mostly that just annoys me, since the blanket is so big that you wouldn’t normally see the entire piece at once, but still. It’s there. On the other hand, doing it in one big piece was the only way I could think of to get all of the names on it, so it worked beautifully to accomplish what I was going for.

Marvel 1 Marvel 2 Marvel 3

Tension was my main issue, but even before I started, I struggled pretty hard trying to figure out what kind of crochet stitch to use. I was trying single crochet, double crochet, I even learned Tunisian, but nothing was giving me the look I wanted. I finally decided to single crochet in back loops only, and just cut the yarn once I got to the other end of the blanket. Which worked pretty well, since the design came out legibly, which was really all I wanted. This method gave everything a slight tilt to the right, which nicely turned out to make the names pop a bit more and look more intense and comics-like. Plus, it left fringes at the edges, which at first I figured I’d just cut later, but now I kind of like them. They give the whole blanket a more substantial, rug-like look.

My method to do color changes on this blanket was to use two colors at a time, with the hidden color going through the middle of the outer color. This is a very good method for two colors, and I strongly recommend it (just be cautious with pulling the hidden color through; if you pull too much, the whole piece gets too tight and then you end up with all the fun problems of the piece shrinking in width every time you add a layer of stitches). However, I started using this method and thinking that I could just pull as many colors through the middle as I wanted. I soon learned that you’re pretty much limited to two inner colors, max. If you try more, they just don’t fit. And if you alternate, like one row with two inner strands and one row with one inner strand, the rows turn out to be different heights. Plus, every inner color can be seen at least slightly through the outer color. So after realizing all of that in my initial experimentation, I decided to only have one inner color strung through at a time and just cut and tie the next color to it. This is how I ended up with a perfectly legible front with rows all the same height, but a back full of knots and other interesting looking things:

Marvel Back

Finally, after the troubles I had with the Avatar blanket, I thought I’d solve the distortion problem by actually paying attention to how wide and tall my stitches would be. Crochet stitches are taller than they are wide (the opposite of knitting), so I tried to measure my stitches and distort the pattern to compensate. But I think I overdid it, so this blanket also has distortion by way of being too wide. That bothered me at first, but again it looks fine thanks to what the brain is expecting to see and I’m still learning as I go.

So this is it, my most recent big project. I probably won’t be posting anything else any time soon, but I do have another blanket in the works, so check back in a few months to see it! And let me know what you think of this one, if you want to learn more, or if you have any questions regarding what I did; I’m sure I’m not nearly as detailed as I think I am on these posts.

“‘Nuff Said!” -Stan Lee

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Triquetra Earmuffs

Trinity Knot Earmuffs

These were one of my first projects from when I picked up crochet a few years ago, and they helped me learn a lot about crochet and what its strengths and limitations are, especially in comparison to knitting. I was inspired by the Celtic knot style and figured earmuffs would be a nice way to display the design and have something useful come out of it. They are very effective at keeping my ears warm.

When it comes to making something in three dimensions, crochet absolutely dominates knitting in every respect. Knitting is meant for soft and wearable or cuddly projects, but crochet can make sturdy projects that can hold their own shapes. For this project, I just made two cylindrical shapes and filled them with stuffing, then sewed on the green and black lines which were made with a single row of single crochet stitches, then added the headband, which is only 6 single crochets wide.

The two earmuff pieces were made from magic rings and crocheted in the round until they reached a diameter I liked. And I really have to say that I’m impressed with the quality of the magic ring. Essentially what this method does is it creates a tight center to your crocheted circle without leaving a hole, which pretty much any other method does.

Trinity Knot Earmuff Closeup

As you can see in the picture, the gray center of the earmuff is a nice tight circle, thanks to the magic ring method! If you haven’t learned it, I strongly suggest doing so for structural crocheted pieces.

Finally, unlike knitted stitches, crochet stitches are very confusing to the eye. This means that stitching extra pieces onto a crocheted piece is much easier when the pieces are crocheted, because as long as you use the same color yarn, no one will be able to tell where the lines from the sewing are.This is how I was able to attach the green and black crocheted thick lines on top of the gray base muffs so easily; no one would be able to tell where my stitches were, so I could do whatever I wanted!

That’s all I’ve got for these! I strongly recommend earmuffs or ear warmers as quick, useful projects to test out new techniques or ideas.

“Wise he is deemed who can question well, and also answer back” –Poetic Edda

Roman Mosaic Tile

Roman Mosaic Cross Stitch

This was a fun, really quick project of mine from about two years ago, really my first cross stitch project. Very small, only about 5 or 6 inches on each side. Made on 14 count Aida cloth over the course of a couple of weeks.

If anyone’s looking for a quick project that doesn’t require too much thought, cross stitch is definitely the way to go. All you have to do is make X’s across the fabric. As long as you pay attention, count the squares correctly, and make the X’s in the same direction (e.g., always make the bottom string the line from lower left to upper right and top string upper left to lower right), you should end up with a beautiful finished piece! Of course, if you don’t do those things, you’ll end up sadly pulling out threads to fix it (as I did a few times). So just pay attention and you should be just fine.

What I really like about this piece is that I didn’t know what it would look like in the end when I started. I was just able to build the pattern from the inside out. I started with the inner flower and worked my way out, coming up with a new layer of pattern as I went along (I had graph paper to draw up ideas, though–I’m not so good that I don’t need to see the whole layer before I stitch it) I didn’t know where it would go by the end, so I just got to experiment with the patterns as I went along.

So there you have it! Small, fast, and a nice decoration.

“Carpe diem” –Horace, Odes

Avatar: The Last Airbender Blanket

Avatar Front

This project took place from February 2011 to November 2011. It was my first big knitting project, and I learned a lot from it. I’m not huge on posting patterns, simply because I draw them on graph paper and transferring that to a digital form may not be the easiest thing for me. Plus, this design has been done by so many people already, it’s super easy to find the element patterns elsewhere on the internet. So for now, I’ll just describe my method and what I learned from the project.

The finished product is 62″ x 49″. It’s double knit in 13 individual pieces, all mattress stitched together.

Distortion

I vividly remember finishing the first panel, looking at it, and being very disappointed. It was supposed to be a square, and it came out like this:

Water Square

As evidenced by the dimensions of the finished product (and knowing that my initial pattern was a square), knit stitches are significantly wider than they are tall! Luckily for me, the eye is very forgiving and doesn’t necessarily notice this at first glance, but it’s something I now try to keep in mind. So definitely take into account whether or not you can live with a distorted final image from the beginning.

The Mattress Stitch

I remember searching the internet, trying to find some way to attach these pieces when I came across the mattress stitch. I saw pictures of how it looked in the end and couldn’t believe there was a way to connect knitting and make it look that good. But it’s real! The only thing you can tell about it is that it leaves a slight bump in the knitting along the line where it’s made. And you kind of have to make something up like it when you’re attaching things vertically. But overall, it’s by far my favorite way to attach knitting. For reference, here are outlines of the 13 individual pieces that went into the final blanket, in the order I knit them:

Avatar Grid

If you’re surprised that those are the divisions, that’s the magic of the mattress stitch!

Double Knitting

What I really like about double knitting is it gives the final product a very clean, finished appearance from every angle, and it has even tension throughout. What I mean by that is that if you tug on it in any direction, it feels the same as a normal, one-color, stockinette piece would (as opposed to, say, fair isle, in which the piece always feels tight and unnatural. For me, anyway). Plus, the back is just as fun to look at:

Avatar Back

As for the downsides, it will feel like it’s taking twice as long to knit because you are knitting twice as many stitches. And, most importantly, you can only knit with two colors at a time (as far as I’m aware). So if you want to work with more, you’d better use a different style. Or make up some cool new way to use double knitting (and let me know).

Borders

Sometime around the end of the summer, I was just done with this project. It was taking too long, I didn’t want to work on it anymore, all the fun element squares were done, and I just had the boring border to work on. That was no fun, so I jazzed up the border! I gave myself something to look forward to by putting words on the border, rather than just solid color. And as it it worked out, the border is now my favorite part of this entire project. So keep thinking outside the box! Don’t feel like you’re trapped into a pattern just because you started it. The beauty of a project like this, which is done in pieces, is that it can be changed all the way up until it’s stitched together.

Well, that’s what I’ve got for this project. Thoughts? Questions? Leave them below!

“Life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not” -Iroh