The Dark Mark Continues . . . Slowly

The Dark Mark continues this week as the next piece of The Monster inches along. Over the past week I toiled through rows 34-57. Somehwere around row 53 I realized I had skipped over a square in the previous row. I faced three choices, rip out the work I had done in order to get back to the mistake and fix it, crochet an extra square where it should’t be, or continue on and try and fix the hole it would leave later. At first, I opted to continue and try to hide the hole later. Then I read a blog post from Daisy Farm Crafts on 3 Things That Helped Me Become a Better Crocheter. If you read this post (which I highly recommend, especially for beginning crocheters) the advice Tiffany gives in this post may seem overly obvious, but I found her post profound in it’s simplicity.
In the 5 minutes it took to read her post I went from brimming with excitement about finishing The Dark Mark to fervently ripping out the 6 rows I had crocheted after noticing the mistake. Then I cut all the yarn from the piece, and set about untangling all the yarn I had just unraveled. Finally, I fixed the mistake and began crocheting again. While I was untangling yarn, and wanting to rip my hair out for being so lazy to begin with, I realized ripping out one row would’ve been a lot easier than ripping out six. Now, it feels so much better knowing the blanket is closer to perfect, and the bobbins are much cleaner now that the yarn is wound on the dowels.

My Piece About Blogging, The Human Condition, And Life In General

 

As a blogger, and a new one at that, I read a lot. I read articles, and other blogs, I pour over crochet patterns. I probably spend way more time reading than I should. Even if you’re not a blogger, how many times have you seen a pin on Pinterest or a headline on Facebook that looked something like this “10 ways to (insert achievement here). Every time I see one of these I think “What’s the secret?” Or “What am I missing?”. First, I’d just like to say I despise click bait and hidden sales pitches. Yes, I know that’s what makes the internet go round, but I hate to click on something that says “How I. . . .” Just to see “Buy my ebook, or sign up for my newsletter”. If, you say it’s free, then don’t ask me to sign up for something or buy anything. Now, I’ll get off my soapbox and back to Tiffany’s 3 Things That Helped Me Become a Better Crocheter. After reading this I thought Tiffany’s advice seemed too simple. Basically, just crochet everyday, share it, and fix your mistakes whenever possible . . . Bam become a better crocheter. What I realized later was that instant gratification is the human condition.
I believe personal indulgence is an innate desire, and one that is not completely detrimental to personal growth. Yes, some people can seek out instant gratification to a toxic level. However, I’m slowly coming to the realization that in almost any endeavor, and life in general, there are no secrets. There is not one thing you are simply missing that is keeping you from reaching your goals. The big reveal, that is actually staring everyone in the face, is just work harder. Or in the words of the great and wise Yoda “Do or do not. There is no try.” So it’s with this revelation in mind that I will continue with everything. Continue working on and perfecting The Monster, continue growing this blog, and continue striving for success in life in general.

The Monster Returns

It’s been a little over a month since I’ve worked on The Monster, and it’s been difficult to stay motivated on this project. Often, I think the only thing that keeps me going is my love for crochet, and all of the familiar doubts are swirling in my mind. It’s too big, it’s not practical, I’ll never finish it, I won’t be able to ship it to my sister-in-law, and this whole project has been a colossal waste of time and money. Despite all this, I will continue and I will finish The Monster . . . Someday.

The current piece of The Monster is The Dark Mark. As with the rest of the pieces I’m using a size H crochet hook, and Caron One Pound yarn in Black, White and Kelly Green. I started this piece about a week ago, and so far I’ve completed rows 1-34 without incident. The Dark of course is the sigil of Lord Voldemort and his supporters. This piece features a similar skull with a winding snakes body. The symbol of the Dark Lord is used throughout the Harry Potter series to mark where someone has been murdered by a supporter of Lord Voldemort, and it emotes unrivaled fear whenever seen.

Next Piece of The Monster. The Dark Mark Rows 1-34 completed

Beautiful Shells Baby Blanket

 

I recently also finished the Beautiful Shells baby blanket. For this project I used a size G crochet hook, and Caron Cakes in the color Faerie Cake. The free pattern is available here on Ravelry. The pattern seems really complicated when first reading it, but it’s really not. After a few rows you will get the hang of it, and before you know it the blanket will be done. Just don’t make the same mistakes I did. I thought I was doing fine, crocheting along, happy as a lark, and then would realize I had not made a V-stitch in the previous round. I probably did this 10 times throughout the project, and my heart sank with disappointment every time I had to rip out an entire round to fix it. Despite my mishaps this blanket was fun, quick and easy to work up. So much so that I would like to try a shell pattern with a hexagonal blanket.

Fluffy Ribbed Effect Blanket

It’s time for more baby blankets here at Homebound and Unwound! With as many pregnant ladies I know I will likely be making baby blankets all year long. The momma-to-be is due early April, and she is expecting a girl. So much like the Gender Surprise Blanket I needed a simple pattern that would work up quickly. Thus, I give you the Fluffy Ribbed Effect Blanket.
For this baby blanket I used Loops and Threads Barcelona in the color Peony, and I used a J sized hook. The pattern is exceedingly simple working single crochet in the back loops only. Which is what gives this darling blanket the “ribbed effect”, and for the boarder I decided to go with one round of single crochet, and one round on reverse single crochet. The yarn I used for this project is considered a 5 weight, or bulky, but I would consider it a thin bulky. It’s bulkier than a 4 weight, but less bulky than something like a thick and quick yarn. The color of this yarn is a mix pink shades ranging from very light pink, to very bright pink, to a subtle mauve pink, with white accents throughout. I personally am not a fan of pink, but I was so excited about this yarn mostly because there were no color changes. Meaning, very few ends to weave in. The best part if you ask me.
I also wanted to make a hat to go with this blanket, and found a great free pattern from Traverse Bay Crochet. While making the hat I had a little bit of trouble with the front post double crochet stitches. My first attempt at the hat it hat a huge brim on it, but I was able to reach out to Laura at Traverse Bay Crochet who was so very helpful. It turns out I was putting the front post double crochet stitch into the same stitch I had just put a double crochet in. So with Laura’s help I got it right, and I liked the pattern so much I made a second hat for my daughter. You can find Laura’s free pattern here.

Fluffy Ribbed Effect Blanket

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Bulky Weight 5 Yarn, 2 – 7 Oz Skeins, more if you plan on making the hat
  • Crochet Hook Size J
  • Tapestry Needle
  • Scissors

Stitch Abbreviations:

CH – Chain
SC BLO – Single Crochet Back Loop Only
R SC – Reverse Single Crochet

The Pattern:

CH 90

Row 1:

SC BLO across. CH 1, turn.

Row 2-94:

Repeat row 1.

For The Boarder:

When you get to the end of row 94 you can either fasten off your yarn, or do what I did and just continue with a SC all the way around your blanket. Make sure you put 1 CH in each corner.

Round 2:
Work the opposite direction (left to right), making one round of R SC. Fasten off yarn.

Weave in the ends and you’re done!

Beautiful Shells Blanket


Check out this Beautiful Shells Blanket I’ve started for the next bundle of joy on my list! The free pattern is available here on Ravelry, and there are lots of pictures showing how you can play with the colors to make it your own.

Gender Surprise Baby Blanket

As a yarn crafter there are always new things to get excited about. New techniques, new products, new patterns, and connecting with new people. Even with all there is to explore I find two constants in yarn crafting. One is a never ending list of projects I want to complete, and the other is finding people to give finished projects to. Right now I know quite a few ladies who are expecting little ones. Some as soon as a few weeks from now. So for my latest crochet project I needed a simple and quick working pattern. This gender surprise baby blanket had to be finished before the beginning of next month. Which is why the pattern seems a bit thrown together, but that means it is also highly adaptable.


Now I don’t consider myself a designer by any means, but this pattern is my “original creation” in the sense that I didn’t get the pattern from any other source than my brain. I would encourage you to improvise or change the pattern as you see fit, and I would love to see your recreations of this blanket. With that in mind here is how I went about making this blanket. I used Caron Simply Soft Yarn in Sage, Sunshine, and Cream with a size K crochet hook. The body of this blanket is worked in the half double crochet stitch holding three strands of yarn, one of each color, which makes this pattern perfect for beginners and a very quick crochet project. The boarder consists of one round single crochet just to even everything out, and one round of double crochet. I added the rope edging to the boarder just to give the blanket a little bit of flair. When I started this project I was not in love with how it was looking, and even though it grew on me there are a couple of things I would change.
This baby blanket didn’t turn out exactly as I had imagined it would, but it still works and with a few simple improvements I could see it becoming a really treasured baby item. Working this pattern with three strands of yarn held together makes the color very appealing, but it also makes the blanket very thick and heavy. Which would be fine for an infant raised in Siberia, but that’s not the case with the couple I plan on giving this blanket to. I would suggest using a larger size crochet hook to make the blanket a little lighter and fluffier. After starting this project I realized it was looking a little bit too wide, so I decided to work it from the long side. Meaning I considered the beginning rows the length of the blanket, and I just worked the pattern until it was a width that I liked. I would also like to try this blanket in slightly different colors. I think it would work very nicely in Baby Sunshine and Soft Green. It took me a long time to not see this as a Green Bay Packers blanket.
The rope edging on this blanket was a new technique for me, and I feel it adds a nice finished look to the blanket. Not as if you worked it up in one evening without a second thought. Because this rope edging will take some time, but the finished look is so worth it.

I added the rope edging to this blanket by starting with a slip stitch using the first color, chain 4, remove the crochet hook, and start the second color with a slip stitch in the next stitch, then chain 4, and remove the crochet hook. Pick up the first color again and single crochet into the next stitch, and chain 4. Repeat this process around your blanket. I didn’t do much planning when it came to the size of this blanket, but in the future I would advise making an even number of stitches around. Because when I had come back around to the beginning of the rope edging I had to fudge it a little bit and put two of the “ropes” into the last corner in order to keep the alternating color pattern the same. I cannot say how much I love the look of this rope edging. Someday I might add this look to the Color Spectrum Afghan with the six colors used in that pattern.
For those of you following The Monster corner-2-corner crochet project, don’t panic I haven’t given up. I’m taking a short break from The Monster because I’m working on something special for the next piece of the project. If you are following me on Instagram or a fan of the Homebound and Unwound Facebook page there will soon be a poll on which piece I should start next. I would love to hear your input.

The Pattern Gender Surprise Crochet Baby Blanket

Materials:

  • Worsted weight 4 Yarn in 3 Coordinating Colors, I Used Caron Simply Soft in Sage, Sunshine, and Cream
  • Crochet Hook Size K, or Larger if You’d Like a Fluffier Blanket
  • Tapestry Needle
  • Scissors

Abbreviations:

Ch- Chain
SC- Single Crochet
HDC- Half Double Crochet
DC- Double Crochet
SL ST- Slip Stitch

Pattern:

Holding all 3 colors of yarn, Ch 105. It should measure approximately 38” or your desired size. Turn.

Row 1
In the second chain from the hook, HDC. HDC in each chain. CH 1 and turn.

Row 2
Repeat row 1 until the blanket is the desired size. I crocheted this blanket to be approximately 32”. Fasten off.

Boarder:

Round 1
Holding two strands of cream join to any edge with a slip stitch. CH 1.
SC in the next stitch. Continue working 1 SC into every stitch along the edge of your blanket. Join to your first CH with a SL ST.

Round 2
CH 2. DC in every stitch around. Join to the first CH in the round and fasten off.

Rope Edging:

Holding 2 strands of your first color join to any DC on your boarder with a SL ST. CH 1, SC in the next stitch. CH 4 and remove your crochet hook.
Holding 2 strands of your second color join to the next stitch with a SL ST. CH 4 and remove your crochet hook.
*Picking up your first color again, bring it in front of your second color and SC in the next stitch. CH 4 and remove your hook. Pick up your second color bringing it in front of the first color. SC in the next stitch. CH 4 – Rep from * all the way around your blanket.
When you’ve made it all the way around your blanket with the rope edging join the last two “ropes” you made with a SL ST in any inconspicuous spot and fasten off.

Using your tapestry needle and scissors weave in the ends. Don’t forget to save the scraps for your next amigurumi project!

Block the blanket any way you wish. Enjoy!

Make Valentine’s Day Romantic

They say “The quickest way to a mans heart is through his stomach.” I don’t know if that’s true. I honestly have never heard a man say “I fell in love with her Eggplant Parmesn” or “Her Steak and Kidney Pie just made me smitten.” I do believe however, that good food emotes good feelings. Especially when it comes to dessert.

When it comes to dessert in my house Chocolate Eclairs are the pinnacle of romantic gestures. Saved for special occasions such as Valentines Day they are savored even more. These Chocolate Eclairs have a light, crispy pastry shell, with an airy interior perfect for filling with luscious pastry cream, and topped with decadent chocolate ganache.

Pastry Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb Milk
  • 2 Oz Sugar
  • 1.5 Oz Egg Yolks
  • 2 Oz Whole Eggs
  • 1 Oz Cornstarch
  • 2 Oz Sugar
  • 1 Oz Butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Recipe Notes:

  • It is very important to sift the cornstarch and sugar together to prevent lumps.
  • While heating the pastry cream, before it boils you may notice some lumps and think you’ve curdled your eggs. Don’t panic! This is the “ugly step-child” phase. Just keep stirring until it smooths out and comes to a full boil.
  • If you want to dress up this pastry cream swap the vanilla extract for a vanilla bean. Just split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds, and add it to the milk while heating. Remove the vanilla bean before tempering the eggs.

Procedure:

  • In a heavy saucepan, dissolve the  first amount of sugar in the milk and bring just to a boil.
  • With a whisk, beat the egg yolks and whole eggs in a bowl.
    Sift together the cornstarch and sugar, and incorporate into the eggs. Beat with a whisk until perfectly smooth.
  • Temper the egg mixture by slowly beating in the hot milk in a thin stream. Return the mixture to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the butter and vanilla. Mix until the butter is melted and completely blended in.
  • Pour into a clean bowl, and cover with plastic wrap placed directly in contact with the surface of the pastry cream. Chill in the fridge completely.

Choux Pastry

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 8 Tb Butter
  • 3/8 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/4 Cups Flour
  • 4 Eggs

Procedure:

  • Heat the water, butter and salt, and bring to a boil.
  • Add the flour all at once, and stir until a smooth dough forms.
  • Transfer the dough to the bowl of a mixer fixed with the paddle attachment. Let the dough cool to about 110 degrees F.
  • Add the eggs one at a time. After the last egg is incorporated you should have a smooth, shiny dough. Beat the dough for an additional two minutes on medium speed.
  • Pipe the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. The eclairs should be about 5 inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide.
  • Bake the eclairs at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 25 minutes more.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 Cup Semisweet Chocolate
  • 1 1/2 tsp Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

Procedure:

  • Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup over medium heat until just simmering.
  • Add the chocolate and stir until it’s completely melted and smooth.

Assembling The Eclairs

Components:

  • Baked and cooled eclair shells
  • Prepared, Chilled Pastry Cream
  • Chocolate Ganache

Procedure:

  • Cut the eclair shells in half horizontally so you have top halves and bottom halves.
  • Fill the bottom halves of your eclair shells with your prepared pastry cream.
  • Dip the top halves of the eclair shells in the chocolate ganache, and replace the tops on the eclairs.
  • Enjoy!

 

The Hogwarts Crest and Cheesecake

Another piece of The Monster is complete! The Hogwart’s Crest is finally finished, and the project as a whole seems much more manageable. Do all crocheters dread the finishing work as much as I do? I believe weaving in the ends of a piece is the bane of crocheters around the world. There are probably as many weaving techniques as there are crochet stitches, but I find the easiest is to just go at it with your tapestry needle. This piece in particular was difficult with weaving in the ends because there is so much black in the pattern, and mostly because of the metallic yarn. Recently, I’ve begun saving the snipped off ends to use as stuffing for Amigurumi. I’ve never tried this technique before, but thought if it doesn’t look good I would have thrown the ends out anyways.

Has anyone had success stuffing Amigurumi with leftover ends?

Oops! I found this little guy while weaving in the ends. Looks like I didn’t catch this bit of carried over yarn. I was able to hide it with a long piece of yarn that I weaved through this section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My reward for finishing the Hogwart’s Crest . . . Cheesecake. This is my go to recipe for Classic New York Style Cheesecake, and I’m constantly asked to make it for special occasions. The cheesecake is great by itself, or with fresh berries. It’s also a blank canvas for variations, and I like to play with adding chocolate, nuts, caramel, candy or fruit. Anything you like can be added to this recipe, go nuts!

Recipe Notes:

  • This cheesecake is baked in a water bath, and this is for two reasons. One the water bath helps ensure even baking of the cheesecake. Two baking in the water bath will prevent the cheesecake from browning. So you will need to decide how important it is that your cheesecake have a pretty white appearance. Since the waterproof springform pan doesn’t exist this means you must wrap the pan with tin foil. I suggest extra wide heavy duty foil.
  • My super secret weapon to get the crumb crust evenly distributed in the pan, and pushed all the way into the corners of the pan is an aerosol can with the lid on, covered with plastic wrap.
  • When adding the eggs it is imperative to scrape the bowl of your mixer well after each addition. No sissy scraping. If there are any unmixed little bits of cream cheese that have not been fully incorporated, then there will be lumps in the final cheesecake.
  • Knowing when the cheesecake is done comes from a little bit of experience. When the pan is gently shaken the cheesecake should give you a firm jiggle. It should be similar to pudding. You can check the internal temperature of the cheesecake, but if appearances are important to you and you don’t plan to cover the cheesecake with chocolate ganache or some other topping there will be a hole left in the cheesecake from the thermometer.

Classic New York Style Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the Cheesecake:

5 – 8oz Packages Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
4 Eggs
1 Egg Yolk
1 Tb Fresh Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch Salt
1 Tb AP Flour

For the Crust:
9 Whole Graham Crackers (5 oz)
5 Tb Butter, Chilled
3 Tb Granulated Sugar
1 Tb Butter, Melted

Special Equipment:

9-Inch Springform Pan
Extra Wide Heavy Duty Tin Foil
Roasting Pan, for Water Bath

Procedure:

Make the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the springform pan with three layers of extra wide heavy duty tin foil. Taking care to get the tin foil as high up the sides of the pan as possible.
Grind the graham crackers to coarse crumbs in a food processor. Add the chilled butter and sugar. Process until the crumb mixture is well blended. Add a few drops of the melted butter until the mixture just sticks together.
Press the crumb mixture into the prepped springform pan with my super secret weapon. An aerosol can with the lid on, wrapped with plastic wrap. Push the crumb evenly into the pan, and up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust until golden and firm to the touch, about 25 mins. Cool the crust completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make the Cheesecake Filling:
Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually, add the sugar, and beat until well blended. Add the flour, and mix. Add the eggs, and the egg yolk one at a time. Beat well, and scrape the bowl after each addition. No sissy scraping. Beat in the lemon juice, vanilla and salt.
Place the cooled crust in a large roasting pan. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Place the roasting pan on the middle oven rack. Carefully, add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake in the water bath until the center shows a firm jiggle, or the internal temperature reads 155 degrees F. About 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven taking care not to spill any water into the cheesecake.
Remove the springform pan from the water bath and transfer it to a wire rack. Cool the cheesecake completely at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days prior to slicing.

 

A word on slicing the cheesecake.

Who has ever sliced a cheesecake, only to end up with more cheesecake on the knife than on the plates? Well, now you can skip risking slicing off your tongue when you’re licking all that cheesecake off your knife. Start with your chilled cheesecake, a tall glass or pitcher of very hot water, a warm wet towel, and a dry towel. Dip your knife in the hot water and wipe it dry. Make your first slice through the cheesecake, then dip the knife in the hot water, wipe it clean with the warm wet towel, then wipe it dry with the dry towel. Continue this process for as many slices of cheesecake that you need. Slice, dip, wipe clean, and wipe dry. Now, you have beautiful slices of your perfect cheesecake with no waste! Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Cake, Anyone?

The monster continues even as I’ve finished all of the main crocheting. To be honest when there are no more color changes in a pattern, and I’m just going along until the end I don’t count rows. Especially, in C2C because once you are decreasing there is almost no way to lose count of the rows. It all comes to a corner, and if for some reason you do have a mental lapse it should be immediately obvious where you’ve gone wrong. So I’ve actually completed row 149-200, but don’t forget every row has been a decrease since row 100. Which means the last bunch of rows crochets up really fast. Now I’m just on to the boarder, and then weaving in the ends.
Since this is a rather uneventful week for crochet I thought I’d share another creative passion on mine. Cooking. More specifically, baking. Which happens to be my chosen profession. Even though I’m currently in the “stay at home mommy” profession. Read more about my start in the culinary world here. This is an excellent week to introduce you to my baking obsession as it is my father’s 61st birthday.
My father is the cornerstone of my extended family. He has always been there for support, advice, or just a hang out. My father is the most honest, peculiar, adventurous, steadfast person I’ve ever known. I’ve asked to hear the story of how he rode his motorcycle from Northern California to Colorado, and down to the Four Corners at least a dozen times. He was barely 18, and just took off on his motorcycle with little more than a sleeping bag. Just to see was beyond the mountains that framed his childhood horizons. Of course, he is not without faults, but for better or worse he is the voice in my head.
It goes without saying cake is appropriate for a birthday, but what cake could possibly be worthy to celebrate my father’s birthday? Chocolate Coffee Cake. Because that’s just him. Simple. I selected a recipe from Completely Delicious. Overall, I’d put it in the win column. If I make it again I will use 9” cake pans. As the suggested 8” produced cakes that overflowed out of the pans and sunk in the middle. I’ve also never seen a buttercream method like the one used here, and I might change to a more standard one.


I’ve had more buttercream battles than I care to remember. It seems every time a recipe claims “Just whip until light and fluffy” all I get is thick soup. I was skeptical of this recipe calling for heavy cream, and flour, just heat, mix and beat in the butter, and I thought my efforts were headed for the same soupy destiny. Nevertheless, I was able to recover the soup after chilling in the fridge/freezer for 10 minutes, trying to beat again, chilling again, then success! I will note the original recipe doesn’t describe how thick the mixture should be after heating. Mine was very dark in color and thick, not unlike ganache. It’s also worth mentioning with this buttercream “light and fluffy” refers not only to texture, but color as well. Which is not universally true of all buttercream.
The ganache for this cake also deviates from the standard. It’s a heated mixture of chocolate, butter, and corn syrup. I didn’t have any problems with the ganache, but I will confess I never use a double boiler for ganache. I know every baking instructor in the world would send the chocolate police after me for this, but I’ve always felt I never had time to mess around with a double boiler. If you understand how to control the heat on your stove, and you have the patience to stand over the pot stirring there is no reason to drag out more dishes. Now, if your stove has a mind of it’s own, and you’re easily distracted I would say it’s worth setting up a double boiler. To top off the cake, I took the lazy route and cut Lindt truffles in half.
Overall, the cake was an enormous success. Rich in chocolate, and coffee flavor. Light and subtly sweet. A large piece was thoroughly enjoyed by all. I hope you will enjoy making this cake as much as we all enjoyed eating it. You can find the original recipe here, and I’m also very excited to see all of your recreations of this cake.

No More Color Changes

Wow, this has been a productive week! I’ve finished rows 118-149! There are now no more color changes in the pattern, but I get somewhat melancholy at this stage of a project. Adding new colors to a project is thrilling, and dealing with more color bobbins is frustrating. Cutting off bobbins is exciting, and it means my dog will no longer get tangled in the stray yarn. No one escapes The Monster. Watching the pattern come to life emotes a sense of accomplishment, but knowing the piece is coming to an end is a bit sad. Getting to this stage in The Monster seems to have taken forever, mostly because of the six month break I took from the project, but I’ve been so eager to finish I’ve been making mistakes.

The Hogwarts Crest. Nearly completed.

 

As yarn crafters we all have our bag of tricks to hide or fix the little mistakes we sometimes make in a project. Mostly, I was so hurried to be done with the color changes I miscounted how many squares of a color there were in the row. I’m proud to say though this past week I’ve been a good girl and ripped out stitches to fix them. It’s not technically a mistake, but using the technique of carrying yarn through the next square of a different color sometimes leaves a bit of contrasting color showing. This little trick is handy for leaving less ends to weave in, and you can decide weather it’s worth needing to try and clean up the bit of yarn that show through. Usually, I determine what I will do on a case by case basis depending on how easily I can go back and hide the yarn, or if cutting the yarn will compromise the integrity of the piece.

You can see what I’m talking about here with the black yarn showing through.

I’ve especially enjoyed working on the Hogwarts Crest because I could see how the textural differences really brought the piece to life. I chose yarn with three different weights for this reason. My favorite was the super bulky metallic gold. Even though it was much harder to work with than the others. As I get closer to finishing this piece I wonder if I will ever get all of the dog hair out. Any suggestions?

It Starts . . . And May Never End

Welcome to Homebound and Unwound. My name is Karli and here is where I will chronicle my journeys through crochet and knitting projects. I am not a professional yarn crafter by any means, but I find the fun of crafting in learning, experimenting, and sharing. I hope that is where this blog will find you as I share the successes or lack thereof throughout my projects. I hope that we can share, laugh, and learn together.
Now, an introduction to my latest project . . . The Monster as I lovingly refer to it. This project started with a picture on Facebook that my sister in law shared. She is a huge Harry Potter fan and shared a picture she found of a giant blanket someone had crocheted, and she suggested someone should make it for her as she has no interest in yarn crafts whatsoever. Believe me I’ve tried to indoctrinate her. So, naturally I started scouring through patterns and found zilch, then I toyed with the idea of creating my own pattern and stumbled across something called corner-2-corner crochet or C2C. I found a wonderful tutorial at 1dogwoof.com, and you can find it here. I also found a website here where you can create your own patterns for all kinds of yarn crafts. I used it for specifically for the project to turn images into C2C patterns.
With a rough idea of how to make a pattern I decided to dive right in which turned out to be a minor disaster. Being completely new to C2C I had no idea how big the grid for my patterns should be, but my sister in law had only two requirements. It had to be Harry Potter themed and it had to be BIG. I decided to make the blanket out of pieces that would equal a grid 400×500, and after getting about 15 rows into the first piece I realized this blanket wouldn’t be big it would be enormous. So I thought about half that size would be more manageable. Yes, I plan for this finished project to be a grid of 200×250, it will still be enormous.

This is the first piece I completed on The Monster. There is a dollar in the picture to show scale.

In the beginning I was also so naive I assumed I could make this blanket with the leftovers from my other projects. It quickly became clear that I would need to purchase some yarn, a lot of yarn. Ultimately, I chose to use Caron One Pound yarn. I love their Simply Soft line of yarn, but decided it would be too expensive for a project this size. I am using the colors Aqua, Black, Claret, Deep Violet, Grass Green, Kelly Green, Grey, Royalty, White, and Sunflower. I’m also using Red Heart Super Saver in Gold, Caron Simply Soft in Bone, and Yarn Bee Gilt Eyelash in Sunspark. If it seems odd that all these yarns are not the same weight that is because I wanted to create different textures or highlights in certain areas of the project.
If you’ve crafted for any amount of time I’m sure you can guess what kind of problems I’ve run into with The Monster. I had to overcome somewhat of a mental block while working the pieces. I started out cutting the yarn every time there was a color change. Of course, I had seen all kinds of methods for organizing bobbins, but for some reason I thought I would just be better off not dealing with any of that. I was even so stubborn to believe it was better to weave in all those end than to take some time winding and organizing bobbins as I went. At some point I figured out that by not using bobbins parts of the blankets integrity would be compromised.

This is an insane amount of bobbins.

Probably the biggest problem I’ve had throughout the project is the size and time it has taken already. I started on this project nearly a year ago. Literally, my notes showed I started on January 20th, 2017. To date I’ve finished 4 of the 10 pieces. Including the largest piece which is a grid 200×100.

This is the largest piece of The Monster, and it barely fit on my living room floor. There is a DVD case on this piece to show scale.

Currently, I’m working on the center piece that is a grid 100×100. It’s difficult to see in this picture, but there is a slightly less black stripe through this piece. This is because I did not order the yarn in the same dye lot. Caron claims dye lots do not apply to their yarn, do not be fooled. For now I am just calling this little mishap The Room of Requirement.

About one quarter of the Crest completed.

It is a small comfort knowing all the remaining pieces are smaller than the ones I’ve completed. Speaking of size, it’s a bit nerve racking not knowing exactly how large the finished blanket will be. My best guess is 12 feet x 15 feet. Yes, feet! I often worry about how I will get The Monster to my sister in law as we currently live on opposite sides of the country, and if she ever does get it how in the world will she wash it? Will it be practical for her to even use the blanket since it will be larger than her bed? Maybe it would be better suited hanging on a wall? Despite all the problems that have plagued me during this project and all those I will run into in the future I know the finished Monster will be loved, and that is really why I enjoy creating things so much. Yes, I enjoy actually working the projects, but it is so much more rewarding when I can see someone enjoying something I’ve created.

Another square for The Monster. Platform 9 3/4.

Goblet of Fire square.

Resuming progress on The Monster has been exciting, confusing, challenging, and frustrating all at once. It’s actually been about six months since I last worked on The Monster. I took some time off to move, and then I had a baby. Starting back up again it was difficult to sort out where I had left off and get reorganized. Once I had gotten organized I remembered how insane the piece I’m working on is. It’s the Hogwarts Crest, and there are so many color changes and bobbins. It seems to be the unwritten crocheters law to run out of yarn with one square left. If only I had wound an inch or two more onto that bobbin I could have finished the row. I’ve stopped becoming excited every time I get to cut off a bobbin because as soon as I do another one is needed. Often I’ve thought if The Monster really was magical like Harry Potter it would crochet itself, or at least refill the bobbins. Over the past week I’ve completed rows 103-118 on the Hogwarts Crest, and even though I am past the halfway point of this piece the light at the end of the tunnel is still very faint.

Just over halfway done with the Hogwarts Crest.

People have told me The Monster is impossible, insane, and impractical. Maybe it is, but it will be worth all the troubles when The Monster is finished. I hope you will join me in this journey and enjoy it as much as I will.