Monday, September 14, 2015


These leaves are for a yarnbombing project in Australia. (The thing in the middle is the beginning of a thread mandala.)

People from all over the world are sending these leaves to Australia in order to decorate a tree outside of the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Redfern, Sydney, Australia.
After I mailed the leaves in the picture above to Australia, I found one that got away, hiding in the bottom of a plastic bin of yarn. So I put it together with some biological leaves, and it fit right in.

Rainbow Mandala

This might be the last mandala I make for the Mandalas for Marinke project. The deadline is approaching, and I have a trip coming up. I wanted to make a color wheel mandala, because the twelve rings make this a natural choice (3 primary colors + 3 secondary colors + 6 tertiary colors = 12 colors).

I didn't want to buy more yarn, so I had to make some adaptations. Instead of a saturated blue violet I used a pale bluish lavender in the center and the outside border, and instead of red-orange I used brick in round 9. I think this worked out very well because the interruption of the dark brick and light lavender add interest.

I previously made a giant mandala that I want to turn into a cushion, so I'm waiting until I do that to send in this one as well as the four from series 3. But I might go ahead and mail the five regular ones that I have left to send tomorrow.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Third mandala series

The third series only has four mandalas in it, though I might send them off together with a couple more that are in the works. I haven't mailed them yet because I just finished them today. I had acquired some nice bright colors for a giant mandala that I was making, but they were a little bulkier than most of my other yarn. So I thought I would make a mandala using only those yarns, plus the cream colored yarn that was also a bit heavier than the rest.

I lined up the yarn in the order cream, lime, green, blue, and red. I didn't want to put the red next to the cream, so rather than repeat, I started with green and reversed the order whenever I got to red or cream.
While I was working on the first of these mandalas, I wondered what it would look like if I started with red. So I made one that started with red, using the same sequence.
Now clearly if I started with white I would get something equally interesting. However I wondered how I would manage to make a symmetric layout with three mandalas.
Never fear, it occurred to me that there was another way to make one of these mandalas starting with green. This completes the series, because there are only 4 possible ways to have the colors arranged in the sequence that I wanted while starting with red, green and cream. At this point I was very close to running out of the dark green yarn, but I ended up with a few inches left over.
Here they are all together.

Second mandala series

Early in the morning on Saturday, August 22nd I went to the yarn store to get some last-minute yarn for what I hoped would be a creative week at Sandy Island. I picked up three more skeins of colorful variegated yarn in colorways that were compatible with the one I already had.

At this point the Mandalas for Marinke project was accepting very large and very small mandalas. I decided that three rounds of the simple mandala plus a little picot edge was just the right size, and four colors could be permuted 24 ways. So I made 24 mini mandalas out of the colorful yarn. They are all different.
Meanwhile I was working on this larger mandala. Each round is one of the colorful yarns combined with a solid color.
I loved the blues and greens together, so I made another 24 permutations. I had to use two of each of the light and dark greens, because I was running out of yarn.
Back home now. I had picked up some gray yarn for a giant mandala that I had started on the way home from Sandy Island. I love the color gray, and I wanted to make something cheerful using lots of different grays and compatible colors. I think this was close to what I wanted, but not quite.
 Here are the mini mandalas in a contraption that I made for shipping. Yarn is threaded through the middle of them and anchored top and bottom with buttons.
Here's the box of mini mandalas and the two regular mandalas, almost ready to ship. But there is room for one more.
This is not the next mandala that I made. The next one I made had to be part of another series, so I finished this one, which was another idea I had about how to use the colorful yarn. Every other row is a double strand of the four yarns, and in between those rows I combined strands of two different yarns. Double blue and double green are repeated, as well as blue and green together in between. I absolutely love this one.
So this bunch of mandalas went in the mail a few days ago. I threw in three little ones that I made from scraps, not pictured here. So a total 48 + 6 = 54 mandalas were sent to San Francisco.

First Mandala Series

These are the first mandalas that I made for the Mandalas for Marinke project. Marinke Slump (Wink) was a popular crochet designer who committed suicide in June 2015. I found out about her while looking for a flower pattern, and I decided to participate in a project organized by Kathryn Vercillo to honor Wink's memory and raise awareness about depression. You can read about the project here.

This is the first mandala that I made. It is Wink's picots and petals pattern. I sent it to Kathryn Vercillo right away, along with a note about who I am and what the project means to me. I flattened it with a damp cloth and a hot iron, which I won't do again. I used the colors of the botanical granny squares, and added blue to the edge.
I made this simple mandala next, loosely based on a colorway that I saw on instagram.
Next I made the picots and petals mandala using some of my favorite colors.
I made two of these so I could keep one. The colors are the colors of the front flower garden this year, which was really beautiful.
This mandala was made from one skein of Vanna's choice yarn, variegated. The name of the yarn was "Peru." I cut the yarn where it changed color, and you can see in row 12 that I had to use what was left of the variegated orange and green. There was very little left over.
I had been haunted by a vague idea of how red and yellow could go together with some other colors to evoke something like a 1920s feeling that I couldn't really put my finger on. This was my first attempt. It didn't do what I wanted, but it's pretty cool.
For this one I wanted to use a lot of the cream colored yarn, because I had a giant skein of it. It was a little boring so when I got to the shells on the border, I used a colorful variegated yarn that was an impulse purchase.
This is a combination of the previous two mandalas. I used light blue as the repeating color. I was trying to get that 1920s look, but I also really wanted to use the brick red that I put on the border. Closer to my vague idea, but still not quite. But, time to move on.
Here are the five simple mandalas that I made in this series, ready to ship to the MandalasForMarinke project in San Francisco. I mailed them at the end of August, together with the other two picots and petals mandalas.

Monday, September 7, 2015

How I join double crochet loops

I have no idea if this is useful or not, but I figured it out for myself and I like the results. Please leave a comment if you can think of a way to improve the instructions. There is no PDF and no left-handed instructions (yet).

1. Don't start with any stitch. Start with the yarn only, leaving about a six inch length at the beginning.
2. ch 3. The first ch is a bit loose, which is OK.
3. dc around, increasing according to whatever the pattern requires.
4. Cut the yarn, leaving about 6 inches. Pull the loop out, noticing where the yarn comes out of the last dc. Thread a darning needle onto this end.
5. Insert the needle behind the 3rd ch of the first 3 ch. Only insert it behind the two strands at the front of the stitch.
6. Thread the yarn back through where it came out - the top two loops of the last dc of the round. Follow the path of where the yarn comes out - it will be the same as where it should go back in. Pull the yarn just enough so that the loop matches all the other ones. Don't over-tighten.
7. Now insert the needle behind the 2nd ch of the first 3 ch. Again be careful to only thread behind the two strands at the front of the stitch. Draw it through, being careful not to pull too tightly.
8. Poke the needle through the space between the first 3 ch and the last dc. Be careful not to go through any strands of yarn.
9. Turn the work over and pull the tail gently. Do not over-tighten.
10. Tie start and end together with half a knot only. At this point turn the work over and see how the stitch looks on the front side. If it's too tight or too loose, adjust accordingly. Technically, you're done, but since the end already has a needle on it, you might as well weave in the ends. If you don't want to weave in the ends, then finish the knot. But I only tie with half a knot.
11. Now I don't think my way of weaving in the ends is anything special, and it might be inferior to other methods, but it's what I do, and I like it. Run the needle through one of the two strands of yarn at the back of about 5 dcs at the point where they emerge from the front.
12. Go the other way, running the needle through the other strand of yarn at the back of the dcs. This step is easier to do one at a time.
13. Trim the end. Now you have a loose starting end and a darning needle, so you might as well weave in the other end.
 14. Weave through the back of the dcs in the other direction.
15. Weave back the other way and trim.
16. Which one is it? I think I know, but it's hard to tell. On the other hand, look at the row below. There is one stitch to the right of the increase on the left (cream colored stitch 6 from the left) that is shorter than the others. That's an example of what it looks like if you pull the end too tightly.

Flower afghan

I made this afghan using the flower motifs from the book Granny Square Flowers by Margaret Hubert (with one exception). The yarn is Vanna's choice by Lion Brand. I enlarged the afghan pattern in the book and used different flower motifs for each square, and I substituted "dusty green" for "fern" in the border. I arranged it in the form of four nine-patch blocks. I made it for my mom.

Top row: Red day lily, coneflower, gold day lily, zinnia, frangipani, rose.
2nd row: Pink zinnia, squash blossom with zucchini and yellow squash (adaptation of poinsettia), cherry blossom with different colors, peas (adaptation of lily of the valley), strawberries, Queen Anne's lace.
3rd row: Sunflower, briar rose, oak leaves and acorns, poppy, blueberries, passion flower.
4th row: Columbine, marigold, morning glory, water lily, geranium (from the Connie's Garden Tutorial by Signed With an Owl), lime.
5th row: Orange day lily, dahlia, carrots, raspberries, forget-me-not, cherry blossom.
6th row: String beans (adaptation of dandelion fluff), orange sun star flower, flower buds, narcissus, pink cosmos, daisy.

Hooked on Crochet

A jigsaw puzzle of granny square flowers led me to buy the book on which it was based (Granny Square Flowers by Margaret Hubert). I had planned to make something for my mom's birthday, and I thought a nice afghan would make up for being late. The flower patterns were delightful. I hadn't crocheted for many years, decades even. But I remembered all the stitches, and I was able to follow the directions.
Here's the first four granny square flowers that I made.
The start of another granny square flower (cherry blossom).
A crochet basket made out of my bulky wool yarn, holding the remainder of my bulky yarn. From an online pattern for sale by Gleeful Things.