Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Crochet A-Long: Ripple Potholders

August 1, 2010
An idea popped into my head about hosting a CAL. In ravelryland, CAL stands for Crochet A-Long. It is an event in which the participants follow the same pattern to create individual finished projects. My thought was that we could do a CAL on the Ripple Potholder pattern I had been developing in previous weeks. August seemed like a perfect time as we were between swaps in one of the potholder groups with the next exchange scheduled for October. I put the idea out to a few of my ravelry friends, namely LubbockArmadillo and Braydenbugsmom. They seemed amenable.

Well, I figured, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by proposing the idea to our group's moderator, Yarnfreak75. It sounded to me, at least, like the CAL had the potential to be a fun and creative event and perhaps others would be interested, too. It also seemed like the Ripple Potholder CAL might be an interesting focal point for our group and a further means to get to know others better though our posts and our creations. A CAL event might also be a forum to experience individual interpretations of the same pattern, an opportunity for sharing crochet tips and tricks and an excellent way to test and improve my "hot-off-the-press" pattern directions.

August 2, 2010
I messaged Yarnfreak75 (Tia), our moderator in the Crochet Potholder Swap group (one of many knitting and crocheting groups open to members), and proposed the idea. Tia said, "Sounds great. Just post to a new thread..."

August 3-4, 2010
I had a few more potholders to make to be sure that I covered the different densities of cottons that participants might use to crochet their potholders. I had originally written the pattern for lighter and moderate density cottons and knowing that several of the participants might choose heavier cottons, I needed to make a few test potholders in this heavier weight and then write up an additional set of pattern directions. After using Pisgah's Sugar 'n Creme, Lily's Sugar 'n Cream and Lion Brand Lion Cotton, to make the necessary potholders, I asked Braydenbugsmom to test the pattern and provide some input. With her more succinct crochet shorthand suggestions taken into consideration, I updated the blog with the newest pattern version.

Now I was ready to initiate the new thread and invite participants to join in the fun and games. Well, I should say that I was "sort of" ready. You see, I had never participated in a CAL before, let alone hosted one!

August 5, 2010
I posted the above examples of the pattern to the first post on the new thread I called, "Something Fun We Can Do Together!!" I messaged individuals with personal invitations who were members of our potholder swap group or who had expressed an interest in the pattern. It wasn't long before a few participants posted to the thread and indicated they were ready to join the proposed CAL. In all, about 20 of us from all over the U.S. (and a few from other countries) signed on for the event.

Soon ravelry members were indicating they had suitable yarn in their stashes or would make trips for specific yarns to Wal-mart, Hobby Lobby, Michaels or their favorite local yarn stores. Some event participants began posting their proposed project yarn types, colors and themes. A few were off and running right away, or I should say, off and crocheting. Feylind launched right in and caught a few omissions and errors on the pattern, so I dubbed her a trailblazer. PWitherspoon was close behind.

In two and a half weeks, the "CAL Gals" made 21 potholders.* Here is a compilation picture of all 21. Pretty impressive! And all so unique!

While this is an interesting visual overview of our CAL, these little pictures do not do justice to the individual creations so each potholder will be described and attributed to its creator.

*All of these potholders are double-sided to protect hands when holding hot pans or dishes and they are made of cotton so that the fibers do not melt.

Week 1 Potholders: August 5-12, 2010

Feylind, a.k.a. Bethie, as mentioned, was a trailblazer. She launched right in using heavier cotton and was the first to post her completed potholder a few days after initiating the CAL. She caught some omissions and pattern goofs. Her contributions made it easier for others to follow.

This is the front side of her crocheted creation. She did something unique, she made a completely different backside. She calls this the "sun side" and the back the "sunflower side." The back suggests a sunflower by the colors in the variegated colors she used.

Braydenbugsmom, a.k.a. Christina, made this "Forget-me-not Ripple Potholder" to test the pattern in heavier density cottons as a means of assisting me in writing up the alternate pattern. The heavier cottons require using a larger hook and making fewer ripples. Christina made this one with a G hook and Pisgah's Peaches 'n Creme. She used this one to send to the featured monthly recipient in another group called the Dazzling Dozen Potholder Swap. Of her experience in the CAL, Christina said, "I had a wonderful time getting to chat with everyone and seeing all of the beautiful creations. For such a quick and easy potholder to make, getting it to that point was not as quick and easy to pen. It was a fun and inspirational experience. I look forward to another CAL."

PWitherspoon, a.k.a. Trish, made two ripple potholders the 1st weekend. Thinking of her own kitchen cupboards that are painted/stenciled with English ivy leaves, she embellished this one with a single ivy leaf. In the end, she decided to gift both potholders rather than keep them. Trish says, " I loved how quick these potholders were to make up." She plans to make more for other swaps. She concluded with, "Thanks for including me in and for the wonderful pattern."

Trish's second potholder, in similar colors, is also seen here to the left. She used Lily Sugar 'n Cream ombres and solids and a size G hook.

delights, a.k.a. Claudia (that's me) made the next potholder (right). I call this one the "Sunny Side Up Ripple Potholder." I used heavier cottons (Lion Brand Lion Cotton and Pisgah's Peaches 'n Creme) for the fronts and backs. The center embellishment was crocheted using a size 2 hook and DMC cotton floss. The little frying pan is complete with a raised ridge going around to assimilate pan sides and the yellows of the eggs are dimensional, too.

Spookycuddles, a.k.a. Brenda, enchanted us with her love of all things Halloween. Here, on the left is her first Ripple Potholder that she dubbed the "Jackie-Lantern Ripple Potholder." After this one, the ideas continued to bubble up. I think she has 4-5 more Halloween and fall potholders planned. Brenda wrote, "I've had so much fun meeting everyone in this CAL and sharing, not only our potholder creations, but our day-to-day comings and goings, that it will be sad for it to come to an end."

Ellblo, a.k.a. Ellen, was next to post a completed potholder. I called it the "Got the Blues Ripple Potholder." Ellen crocheted her potholder with Reynolds Saucy cotton yarn. As this was a type new to most of us, Ellen offered this descriptive information for us, "Reynolds Saucy is 100% mercerized cotton. My LYS** carries many colors of this cotton. It's a sturdy, kinda rough cotton, twisted, not as shiny and soft as Tahki Stacy but thinner than Lion Brand, Elmer-Pisgah Peaches 'n Creme cotton. Also the colors are more saturated and varied." ** [Ed note: LYS is ravelry shorthand for Local Yarn Store.]

This was another benefit of the CAL, learning about new yarns!

delights, a.k.a. Claudia. I was back with another potholder. The "Strawberry Ripple Potholder" [Sounds like a cheap, fruity wine, doesn't it?!] was made using heavy cottons and embellishments of DMC cotton floss. Normally I prefer the moderate density cottons, like Tahki Cotton Classic and Omega Sinfonia, but because most of the participants were using the heavier cottons and because I had already made more in the lighter weights before initiating the CAL, I chose to make this one with Pisgah Peaches 'n Creme in white and ecru.

LubbockArmadillo, a.k.a. Cindy was next to post her potholder. (right) Cindy said, "I haven't decided what embellishment to add, or even if I am going to keep it or give to a swap partner. I have really been liking the blue-greens this summer and have been adding touches of that color in the kitchen and living room, so I might just keep it for me." Of her CAL experience, Cindy added, "I have enjoyed everyone's creativity! Parting IS such sweet sorry, indeed! Let's all keep in touch 'til the next CAL!"

Cindy used a 2.25 mm hook and Red Heart, Ltd. "Creme de la Creme," another yarn new to most of the rest of us.

danisboots, a.k.a. Dani created the potholder to the left. The colors are so yummy, they look like sherbet—good enough to eat. Dani said, "I loved learning a new technique/stitch."*** She continues, "This has been a really fun CAL, lots of great ideas and participation. There is much that you can do with this pattern. I enjoyed it immensely! :) And, YES, do another CAL."
*** [Ed note: the raised ridge stitch.]

delights, a.k.a. Claudia. I made this Christmas potholder due to Spookycuddles' influence talking about all of her holiday plans and creations. The body of the potholder is made of Sugar 'n Creme and Lion Brand Lion Cotton and embellished with a gingerbread man cookie, a peppermint candy and a tiny green gumdrop. The center of the backside of this potholder also resembles a large peppermint candy. This Christmas potholder rounded out the final potholder for week one.

Week 2 Potholders: August 13-20, 2010

Melanie702, a.k.a. Melanie, came in just on the cusp between weeks one and two with her completed ripple potholders. Here is the first one she posted in red, fuschias and purples with a dark olive green outline. Melanie used Lion Brand Lion Cotton solid colors and a 4.5 mm hook.

Melanie's second ripple potholder was this one (above, right) in rich, fall colors. Melanie wrote of her CAL experience, "I really had fun with this CAL also, and will be waiting for the next. This was my first, and can't wait to have a 2nd."

delights, a.k.a. Claudia. This one started because I needed to take some step-by-step photos of the raised ridge stitch to add to the blog pattern. (That's the raised ridge stitch in blue surrounding the acorn.) As long as I had a start, I decided to just finish it. This "Acorn Ripple Pothoder" was made using medium density cottons: Tahki Cotton Classic (rust) and Omega Sinfonia (blue and green) and a size G hook. The acorn embellishment was made with DMC floss.

Knitastitch, a.k.a. Melissa made this "Lemon/Lime Ripple Potholder." She used Lily Sugar 'n Cream and a G hook for the main body of the potholder. For the embellishment she used DMC floss and a B hook. Her little citrus fruits are so perfect.

Spookycuddles, a.k.a. Brenda, using an H hook, made this wintery potholder that she named the "Snowflake Ripple Potholder." She crocheted it especially for her sister-in-law who is also her very dear friend. Brenda says about making up this pattern, "They are addictive. Maybe you should just leave the thread running to see what pretties everyone creates with your pattern. Whenever one of us finishes a new one we can just post it on the thread. I myself have so many planned, I will probably be doing them way into next year. LOL."

JanetMB, a.k.a. Janet created this "Butterfly Ripple Potholder" in week 2. She wrote, "I was thrilled to be a part of this fun, fast-paced CAL. The camaraderie was uplifting as well. I learned how to do the ridge stitching, which was new for me. I'd love to participate in another CAL of this sort, with this group! :o" Janet decided to hang her potholder in her cube at work where it has provided her with visual pleasure when she looks up at it.

Sandramaria, a.k.a. Sandra is our new ravelry friend from Venezuela. She made this potholder with the center daisy of pabilo yarn, an indigenous cotton. Pabilo is a finer density and because of it, Sandra used a smaller, E hook. Sandra calls this her "Me Potholder" because, she says she made it for "meeeee!" Sandra had some real challenges during our CAL with a major allergic reaction to some fish she ate; working on projects during her recovery was helpful, something she calls "crochet-o-therapy." This is now one of our new terms several of us have adopted. One more note: Sandra is translating the pattern into Spanish so it may be available soon in this language.

Knitastich, a.k.a. Melissa crocheted this "Acorns/Oak Leaf Ripple Potholder" using an F hook. She intended to use a G hook but picked up the smaller size by accident and then discovered she liked how it turned out. Her yarn of choice was Lily's Sugar 'n Cream. The acorns and leaf embellishments were made using DMC floss, which she free-formed without a pattern. Something that Melissa added to this potholder and the one that follows: picots on the tips of each ripple peak. After creating these two potholders [see the one that follows], Melissa decided that maybe they were too special to use and has decided to hang them in her kitchen for decor.

Knitastich, a.k.a. Melissa also crocheted this "Morning Glories Ripple Potholder." Melissa wanted to be sure to credit the source for the morning glories pattern. The instructions for them came from an OOP booklet, #2281, Floral Potholders, by Maggie Weldon, published by Leisure Arts. Melissa used two DMC colors together for the leaf to give it more dimensionality. Of her experience of this CAL, she wrote, "I've enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and would enjoy doing another CAL with you all."

It seemed as though we had concluded our 2 weeks in the Ripple Potholder CAL with 20 wonderful and unique creations and then, just before time to start blogging, a 21st potholder came in on August 24th. Here it is:

This "Cheery Cherry Ripple Potholder" came via Sandramaria but was crocheted by her good friend, Ludys. They had spent time together in one of Sandra's famous "crochet-o-therapy" sessions. Actually Ludys had started another potholder in pabilo cottons but had run out of the peach color she was using and couldn't finish it without more. Sandra was supposed to pick up the peach color for Ludys but was sick so Ludys, on her own and from memory, created this potholder without benefit of the pattern (in English, while Ludys' primary language is Spanish) or without Sandra to guide her.

So, this concludes the 21 Ripple Potholder creations made during our CAL. Thanks to yarnfreak75 (Tia) for consenting to the CAL in our Crochet Potholder Swap Group and to ALL of the great women who participated in this event. We created, we communicated, we learned new things, we freely shared our tips and techniques with each other and, in the end, we made some new ravelry friends that will extend beyond this event.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Becky's Fiestaware Potholder

Another month, another potholder for a member of our Dazzling Dozen potholder swap group. That sounded kind of perfunctory, but I mean it joyfully! This month, it is Becky's turn. Each month I try to tailor the potholder for the featured person's tastes.

When asked about color and theme preferences, Becky posted this photo of her dishes with us at our thread.

I decided that I wanted to make a potholder featuring a turquoise mug and a burnt orange plate/saucer, like the ones in the picture. Affirming that these were Fiestaware dishes from Becky via a message, I started a little online research to look at the construction of the handles of the mugs. Then I incubated for a week or two about ideas. I needed some additional graphic element to complete the picture but didn't know what exactly. I finally came up with an idea that suited the colors and satisfied the sense of balance of the whole: a slice of lemon and a tea bag—or at least the label and string.

Here is the sketch I drew of my idea to serve as a template. I also added some notes to myself, like "turquoise blue" on the mug and "burnt orange" on the plate. [That diagonal crease is from my having folded the paper to produce a square. Also, I am an incurable uphill writer, as you can see with my later notations in ink.]

Next I had to find the right color yarns. I found that turquoise and burnt orange are not common colors in cotton yarns. I found one small skein of turquoise in a different brand at my local yarn store (LYS, we it them on ravelry) but it was both expensive (even on sale) and dull and I wanted something with a bit of a sheen, like the ceramic glaze on the dishes. I was stumped for a few days until I thought of DMC cotton. I found both the turquoise and the burnt orange in little hanks and bought enough of each of the colors I needed. In addition to the turquoise, I also bought some yellows for the lemon, and white and black for the tea bag label and string.

Wow! What a great idea these little DMC hanks turned out to be for several reasons. They are cheap: they only cost about 35¢ when not on sale so you don't have to spend a lot for colors you might not ordinarily use. They come in many colors: in fact hundreds of colors! They are 100 percent cotton: a must for making potholders that won't burn or melt. They are easy to use: you just crochet all six strands at once and the density is similar to size 3 crochet thread. My creative and crochet world just expanded!

I set to work on the potholder, first crocheting the background (size F hook) as if there was a table on which the items would sit with a wall beyond. I wanted these background colors to be neutral so I chose beige (Tahki cotton classic) and cream (Omega Sinfonia). The lower half (table) is comprised of rows of hdc's; the upper half (wall) was done in a stitch called "Petite Shells." [I'll reference this and another stitch from the same book at the end of this blog page.]

After the background was done, I crocheted the larger graphic elements (cup and saucer) using a size 2 hook and DMC cotton. After placing and attaching these elements, I crocheted the lemon wedge and the tea bag label. I stitched on "MINT" and "TEA" to the little label and attached both. Finally I added the tea bag string by embroidering an outline stitch from the label up and over the top rim of the mug.

Here's the picture of both the front and back sides of the potholder for Becky. [This is as big as the blog will allow me to make this photo. Wish it were bigger.]

I was able to use the turquoise cotton yarn that I bought initially at my LYS for the back. Again using the same cream and beige from the front, I included the turquoise in a three color stitch called "Clever Blocks"* to form a checkerboard effect. I used the DMC cotton to join both sides together to create a scalloped edging. Using a plastic curtain ring, I completed the potholder with the same burnt orange color and a buttonhole or blanket stitch.

This "Clever Blocks" stitch and the "Petite Shell" stitch are from a book titled, The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet by Margaret Hubert.

I have checked out many crochet books from the library and also look at several whenever I go to bookstores. Of all the books, I liked this one the best and ordered it from to keep as a resource. I like to try new stitches and create new effects, always stretching and flexing my crochet skill muscles.