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Apr 15, 2018

FO | Herlacyn Heatwave Afghan

Last week, I promised you a proper FO post for my Herlacyn Heatwave afghan. I love how it looks, now that blocking has worked its usual magic. The stitches relaxed, the bumps disappeared, the seams are much straighter, and the borders lay flat.



As you can see, it features a warm gradient created using six shades ranging from pale yellow to red, and against the rich black background, the colors pop. The colors are arranged on the diagonal from the lower left to upper right, so they were worked in this order:
  • Left strip: Provincial Rose, Tropical Coral, Buttercream, Banana
  • Center strip: Cherry Moon, Provincial Rose, Tropical Coral, Buttercream
  • Right strip: Barn Red, Cherry Moon, Provincial Rose, Tropical Coral

Herlacyn was designed with stashbusting in mind, so I was determined to work with yarn on hand. In the end, however, I had to order more Cherry Moon, because there was so little left after last year's rainbow Valere afghans and I wasn't in the mood to play yarn chicken.


Herlacyn Heatwave Afghan
Pattern: In development
Yarn: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)
Needles: US 8 (5.5 mm)
Size: Small / baby
Dimensions: 27 x 35 ins
Yardage: ~670 yards

The back side is attractive, but it has a different look and feel. Because of the wrapped stitches, the colored triangles resemble appliques and almost appear stitched on rather than worked as part of the fabric.




Don't tell the other afghans, but Heatwave is my new favorite. It has fantastic drape, and the strong geometric shapes and cheerful colors delight my simple heart. It's also the perfect weight for our chilly spring weather and it will transition well into summer, when a soft, light afghan is welcome on a cool morning.

I'm itching to cast on another in cool blues and greens, but that may have to wait. A shawl, a pair of mitts, and a vivid rainbow afghan are already on the needles, and they're all crying out for some well-deserved attention.

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Looking for the pattern? It's in development and should be available soon.


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Apr 8, 2018

Want Straight Edges? Try this Blocking Trick

Whew! The last end has been woven and my Herlacyn afghan is blocking as we speak. 

I promise to do a true FO post soon, but in the meantime, I thought you might be interested in a few quick tips and tricks to help you block everything from scarves and shawls to cardigans, blankets and afghans with greater precision and straighter lines. 

If you own the basic plain blocking tiles as I do, straight lines can be a challenge. If you're lucky enough to own blocking mats printed with a grid, you're ahead of the game but you might still find these tips helpful. Blocking wires provide a nice, straight edge, but they don't work for all projects.

Since I like to keep things as simple as possible, here's what I do. First, I connect as many blocking tiles as I need. Then, I tie a slip knot in a piece of string and hook it over one of the nubbins at the top edge of the mat.



I run this string down the full length of the mat and wrap it around the corresponding nubbin at the bottom, making sure it's taut and straight to form a guideline for the left edge.



With the edge established, I begin spreading the entire piece over the blocking mats, continuing to run string lines between the top and bottom as needed. In this instance I ran four vertical lines (one for each edge and one for each seam).


I then start patting out the lumps and bumps, pinning things into place using the strings as a visual guide to align shapes, seams and edges. 


I keep my tape measure handy and continue to make adjustments until the end result looks something like this:


In this instance, I was able to use the top and bottom mat edges as a lateral guide, but if I need horizontal lines, I simply follow the same strategy and run strings side to side. It's equally easy to establish diagonal guidelines for triangular shawls or other items with slanted shapes, and if I were making a pile of individual blanket squares, I'd get the strings in place, block the first square, then leave the strings in place, so I could block each subsequent square to the exact same dimensions.

One of these days, I may invest in mats with a pre-printed grid, but for now, this fast and easy trick helps me block straighter seams and edges to improve the overall look of the finished piece. Have your own favorite blocking tips? Feel free to share them in the comments below.


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Apr 2, 2018

Hand Knits to the Rescue, Again

This weekend, I'd planned to pack away the winter-weight afghans and accessories and pull out their mid-weight siblings in preparation for milder weather, but somehow the task didn't get done. This turned out to be a good thing, since after an all-too-brief interval that carried hints of spring, our world is once again coated in snow that's clinging to every branch and twig and turning the world white. 

Luckily, thanks to my knitting obsession, I was able to start the day fortified by that extra touch of comfort only hand knits can provide. As I sipped my first steaming cup of coffee and watched the sun rise, I wrapped my warm and woolly Tikkyn Flagstone lapghan around my legs ...

 

 and slipped my soft, cozy Kintra Blackberry mitts onto my hands.



I donned a heavy marled cardigan (a great thrift store find) and draped my Dojeling Blackberry shawl around my neck and shoulders for extra warmth.




Now, I'm working in my perpetually chilly office with my Flashpoint lapghan tucked over my legs and feet, cheered both by it's cozy weight and the fact that it blends beautifully with the flashes of red, purple and black in my shawl and mitts. (I can be strange that way.)


The calendar may say it's spring, but the weather looks and feels like winter, so once again, hand knits have come to the rescue.


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