Thursday, March 20, 2008

love the yarn you're with

I went to Hobby Lobby last night, and a strange thing happened: I did not buy a single speck of yarn. I looked, I squeezed, I touched, I pondered, but all of the yarn was too pale, too ugly, too scratchy, too skinny, too this, or too that. A vision had been starting to form in my mind involving a certain tealish blue, gold, and purple, but I didn't see anything appropriate. In fact, the yarn that I thought I remembered as being the perfect color was totally not.
But you know what? I have tons of acrylic yarn, and most of it is nice and soft. I can think of four different blanket possibilities based on the yarn I have on hand. I'm just not that excited about it because it's all leftovers from other projects. Plus, I know The Blue I'm envisioning exists in Moda Dea Washable Wool. It's their Real Teal. But let's try to be sensible. You can't buy Washable Wool here, I'd have to get it online, so it might not even get here in time for the first meeting of the blanket society, plus to get enough to be sure of finishing the blanket would cost about $50 plus shipping (for two balls each of purple, blue, and yellow).
So. Using only yarn already in my possession, I could make:

  • a super fluffy fleece blanket in pastel pink, green, yellow, and purple, with white trim around the edge. I've already made one like this, I have half the yarn left over, and it was easy, quick, and fun to make. This is a good candidate.
  • a brightly colored blanket in some stripe pattern of yellow, dark hot pink, purple, and an ombre mix of these colors. Not as quick, but reasonably fun. The yarn is soft, and the colors are electric. This option is more exciting but less likely to be finished on time.
  • a rainbowy cotton blanket, either in the same stripe pattern as the one I'm working on now, or something else. This assumes I finish the one I'm working on now and it actually only takes one skein per color. I'd give an 85% chance of one skein per color and a 60% chance of finishing by Wednesday, since I do have tomorrow off.
  • a simple blanket of multicolor boucle in white, yellow, blue, pink, and purple. This one would look like ice cream sprinkles. It would be fast and fun but probably small--I'm not sure if I have enough yarn.
  • a pastel classic baby theme of some sort in any combination of pink, blue, and off-white. Appealing to me only in theory.

Notice that for each project, I have about half the yarn left over from what I originally made. To put it another way, I bought twice as much yarn as I needed. When I first started crocheting, my projects kept turning out way bigger than I expected, so I always had to rush back to the store and try to get more yarn in the same dye lot while it was still available, so I guess I just started overestimating in a big way. Well, here's something I've never seen written down anywhere: don't make your foundation chain the size you want your finished project to be. Depending on which side of the chain you crochet into,* your chain may stretch to as much as one and a half times its original size when you start crocheting, and then suddenly you have a project that's way bigger than you intended, and all of your yarn calculations go right out the window. I've found that I need to make my chain about two-thirds the size that I want the finished project to be. If you're winging it and don't want to make a swatch, make sure you re-check the size of the project after the first three or four rows. At that point, it should be about the width it will end up. Since I figured that out, I've stopped making panic runs to the yarn store, and I could probably stop buying twice as much yarn as I really need, too.

* Why does it matter which side of the chain you crochet into? If you crochet around the "v" part, like you will at the top of the stitches on all of the other rows, it makes a chain that will stretch to match the rest of your crochet. If you crochet around the other side, the single-strand part, it seems to be a lot less stretchy. You might think this would solve the crazy expanding blanket problem, but the way I crochet, it just makes the end look funny because it's tighter than the rest and won't stretch to match. The rest of the stitches still spread out the way the always do, so I end up with sort of a trapezoid effect at that end. Not pretty.


Anonymous said...

Make the fleecy blanket. I know it doesn't help with your mad yarn overstock problem, but hospitals are always too cold and kids need something soft. Also, I know my little one would have been upset to have fingers and toes poking out of her "shield" that her Project Linus blanket became. Did I ever tell you that the big green fleecy blanket she got was a Project Linus donation?

Tis Saloma_lape, if you didn't already figure that out!

Cara said...

Saloma_lape, would an afghan be ok for bigger kids, or do you think all kids would prefer a solid piece of fleece?