Well, this blog entry is being brought to you as promised as a recollection of my misadventures of working on a particular Christmas present this year. For those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook, I will offer you a quick recap. Last year I decided I wanted to learn how to crochet. My mom had taught me how to do a lot of different crafty type things when I was little, but let’s face it, I’m getting older and my memory isn’t what it used to be! So I had to start back from square one. After nearly pulling my hair out multiple times, I finally figured it out and last year for Christmas I made about 6 blankets in roughly 6 weeks. Throughout this year I’ve continued working on another blanket, some stuffed toys, and a few Despicable Me Minion beanie hats. With Christmas coming up, I decided to try something new and use a grid pattern for some more unique blankets as presents. Lord was that a mistake!
I had come across a pattern for a silhouette of Audrey Hepburn while searching for decent grid patterns. My sister is a big fan of hers, so I thought this would be the perfect idea as a Christmas present for her. Besides, it was only black and white so how hard could it be? I ordered the pattern and received it the following day (I love the digital age!). Included in the pattern were instructions on how to crochet it, do the Tunisian afghan, as well as cross-stitch. Essentially each grid square equaled one stitch, which was easy enough to comprehend. So, I went out to my local art store and picked up two pounds of white yarn and a pound of black yarn. It didn’t give the exact amount I would need so I figured that should be enough. God forbid I had extra, I could always use those two for some other project. And since I was hoping this would happen quick and easy like, I figured I would end up doing more grid pattern blankets and need the extra regardless.
The First Attempt: I set out working on the chain. This particular pattern was 150×200 stitches so my plan was to do just that part and then go back around it when I was done with some sort of decent border to make the blanket larger. Since I can lose count easily, I used little plastic rings on every 10th stitch so that I could keep up with where I was and remove them when I was done. The chain was the easy part. I counted it and recounted it about 5 times just to make sure I had all 150 stitches. The rest of the blanket called for single crochet stitches throughout and recommended I carry the color I wasn’t using “behind” it (or actually inside the stitches). After my first four rows, I realized that you could see the unused yarn too easily since I was doing black and white. So…I ripped it all out and started over.
The Second Attempt: Feeling slightly disappointed but still optimistic of my plan for this blanket, I decided I would just drop the yarn of the color I wasn’t using completely. It would make for some annoying weaving in of ends, but I thought it would come out looking a bit cleaner in the long run. So, I went back to the beginning chain, recounted it a 10th time to make sure I didn’t accidentally rip out any of those chains, and restarted from Row 1. This time I got to about Row 8 and realized it still looks like crap. On top of that, I accidentally cut one of the stitches too, so regardless I needed to do something to fix it. Now I was really bummed out. I set the blanket down and decided to give myself a few days to think about the project and maybe re-look at it with a fresh pair of eyes and a bit more rational thinking. During this time, my mom came to visit. I showed her what I was doing and she agreed it wasn’t really attractive looking. At this point she recommended that I consider trying the Tunisian afghan stitch.
The Third Attempt: Since I’d never done (or even heard of) this kind of stitch, I reverted to the ever trusty YouTube for how-to videos. It seemed simple enough. But the problem was, I didn’t have the right type of hook for it. I made another trip to the local art supply store and they didn’t have any in stock for what I needed! Fortunately, I was planning on going to visit my parents that weekend so I asked my mom if she happened to have one in her stash. She loaned me a few of her hooks that she’d inherited from my grandmother so I wouldn’t have to buy new ones (after-all, I would probably end up inheriting them from her when she passed). That following Monday, after getting the kids off to school, I sat down again to restart this blanket. I ripped everything out, counted my 150 loops on my hook another 10 times, and then started working on each row. Back and forth I went. It was slow and monotonous, but it was working. The plan was that I would go back and cross-stitch the silhouette onto the blanket after it was done. Once again, I got to about Row 5 and realized I had somehow lost about 10 stitches. There was no way to go back and add them back in, so guess what comes next??
The Fourth Attempt: OK, so you guessed it, I had to rip everything back out and restart from Row 1. And once again, I had to count out my initial 150 stitches another 5 times to make sure I had it right this time. I restarted my stitch counter to 1 (which I was using to track how many rows I had done) and got back to work. This time, I did about 20 rows, constantly recounting my 150 stitches to make sure I didn’t lose any along the way. But after 4 attempts at crocheting this sucker, I was in tears and quite honestly the Tunisian afghan stitch is really boring and I found myself dreaming of ways to destroy the blanket. And once again, I called my mom in near tears with frustration of what was happening with this seemingly easy present I had planned.
Now, just for a quick reference, thanks to my artistic brain I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. I’m also a typical Aries (if you believe in that stuff) and extremely stubborn once I set my mind on something. I really wanted to do this for my sister for Christmas and wanted it to look good! Ok, back to the story…
The Fifth Attempt: I set aside my Tunisian Afghan, thinking I would just buy an afghan and do the pattern as cross-stitch onto it. I remembered how to cross-stitch so this would be easy enough (I thought). Then if I ever wanted to go back to working on that particular afghan, at least I had a bit done on it to get ahead of the ball game. I purchased some Monk’s Cloth and got to work counting out the center stitch and getting ready to whip stitch my outline. After counting and recounting everything, getting it all prepped and ready, I started my first cross-stitch. But apparently I wasn’t doing it right because my stitches were sliding back and forth under the Even Weave. Now I’m definitely frustrated and ready to burn this blanket with a fiery rage.
The Sixth Attempt: Once again, mom had come to visit and looked at what I was doing. She then explained what I was doing wrong. Apparently I was supposed to stitch over TWO squares versus just the one. Whoops! In my defense, the last time I did cross stitch I was using those plastic canvases and have never in my life tried doing something like this. So, I went back to my local art supply store to get an afghan that I could cross stitch onto. Something decent looking, rather than the Monk’s Cloth. But no one in the area carried the kind with the large middle section. Mom said she had a spare that already had the edging finished so she mailed it down to me. I decided this time I was going to grid out the fabric with a quilter’s pen so I wouldn’t have such a hard time figuring out where I was. I found my center, counted out from there and drew my grid lines. And then realized I had counted wrong from the center. Bummer!
The Seventh Attempt: Fortunately this pen is meant for washing out, so it only took a quick rinse and 30min dry in the dryer and I was ready to start again. Time to recount my stitches again! This time, triple checking that I did it correctly from the center. I redrew my entire grid onto the blanket, got my thread ready, and started on my first grid square. Since this was a silhouette, I found it would be easiest for me to work a grid square at a time. After finishing my first square, I noticed it didn’t look right. The thread was too thin and I could see too much of the background afghan fabric underneath it. Once again, mom got a text asking for advice.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
The FINAL Attempt: Mom had recommended I get some special yarn, but I couldn’t find it locally. So I picked up something called crochet thread. This time my first square looked much better, although I could only do the first half of the stitches (rather than the cross over) because the “yarn” was so thick that it was stretching the holes. At this point, I gave up! Who cares if it’s REALLY cross-stich?! I just wanted to finish it! Within about a week I had finished the bottom half (yeah, I know, I was working it backwards, but who cares??). I get to the top half, where I have to work on her eyes and hair, and notice that one of my columns is actually a half stitch short. Dangit! I had already done the whole bottom half though so I there was absolutely no way I was going to go back and redo it all. I made it, work, adjusting my stitches in that column to count as 9 rather than 10 and finished the rest of the blanket. I finished off the remaining ends on the back and washed and dried the blanket. And then I notice it… the whole right half seems to be “lighter” then the left. I think it’s because I was holding the left side and working the needle with the right, so the thread on the left was softened up from getting handled. At least I hope so because I definitely am not planning on trying a Ninth Attempt on this blanket.
And that, my friends, is the misadventures of my sister’s Audrey Hepburn blanket. It took me two months, 8 tries, numerous calls to my mom and repeated trips to the art supply store, but I finally finished it!