Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A note

As a (very) belated note regarding the last entry... I, in fact, was not knitting wrong, but I was actually doing something called the "Combined" knitting method. Huh. I am just wondering how in the world this came about. Oh well.

So I'm knitting the regular way now, AND I've managed to conquer Continental knitting. I prefer knitting that way because it's less hand movement (and therefore less stress on my fingers) and it feels a bit more like crochet, which is what I'm more used to doing. So, yes, I think I shall be sticking to this method.

I also learned how to dye yarn with kool-aid. It is so fun.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Knit/Crochet festival!

So today, I was a proud attendee of the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival. Frankly, it was awesome and a very good day.

First I learned how to dye yarn. It's drying right now in my bathroom, heeh. There's enough there to knit into a thin scarf, so I'm anxious to do that and see how the color knits up. And it's completely feasible for me to do it at home. Though I'd be a bit worried about the odor of the dye in my small apartment. Plus, when you nuke the fiber in the microwave... it smells pretty funky. Hahah.

Then we had an awesome lunch (I had a chicken and brie wrap... it was amazing). And walked around the booths. There was SO much too look at... so much yarn. I was tempted. It's all so expensive, though, so I didn't buy any. I did buy a notepad to stick on the fridge for a grocery list or something that says "I'd rather be knitting"! Which is pretty much how I feel for half the day. Now I just need a notepad that says "I'd rather be sleeping," cause that's how I feel for the OTHER half of the day...

Then I had a class on how to knit a small pouch with drawstring..... and, so, here's for the amusement comes in. So, for knitting... there's really only two stitches: a knit, and a purl. And apparently, for the past half-year or so, I have been doing them BOTH wrong?????? :/ But the thing is that everything looked how it was supposed to on all my knitting projects so far. So I think what must've happened is that since I was doing both stitches wrong (still, ????) they must've negated each other out and it still turned out correct. Hahahaha. So. *cough* I learned the proper way to knit and purl.




And then perhaps the best part of the day - I won a raffle and I got 5 skeins of soft cream colored yarn!!!! :D Yay! It's 75% synthetic, 25% wool.... too bad it's mostly synthetic, cause otherwise I could've tried my new dyeing skills on it. Oh well. It's still awesome. Yay. Good day. :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Avatar: The Four Elements

Avatar: The Four Elements
An Avatar: The Last Airbender blanket

Because I figure if you have an all-consuming, unnatural obsession that pretty much takes over your life with little remorse for its own part... well, you might as well be productive about this, right?


Click for details of each nation square:



Make sure to read through all instructions before starting!

Skill Level: Intermediate


Crochet hook – Size K (6.5mm)
Yarn needle

Square Background colors:

Yards = Approx. 546 of each (1.5 skeins, 7 oz.)
Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Solids
- Ranch Red (fire)
- Frosty Green (earth)
- Lt. Blue (water)
- Aran (air)

Square Foreground colors:

Yards = Appox. 473 of each (1.3 skeins, 7 oz.)
Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Solids
- Black (fire)
- Coffee (earth)
- Windsor Blue (water)
Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Multi
- Grey Heather (air)

For the borders connecting all four squares:
Red Heart Ltd. Super Saver Solids
- Buff, 728 yards (2 skeins, 7 oz.)
- Café, 364 yards (1 skein, 7 oz.), or one additional skein of Buff


Gauge: 14 scs/14rows = 4 inches
Note: Exactly matching the gauge is not critical since this uses charts based on numbers of stitches, rather than any sort of dimensional measurements.

Finished blanket size: Approx. 72 x 72 in.
Size of each nation square: Approx. 31 x 31 in.


BG = background
ch = chain
cl st = cluster stitch (YO, insert hook in stitch, pull through, YO, insert hook in stitch, pull through (5 loops on hook), YO, pull through all loops)
dc = double crochet (YO, insert hook in stitch, pull through, YO, pull through 2 loops on hook, YO, pull through remaining 2 loops on hook)
FG = foreground
hdc = half-double crochet (YO, insert hook in stitch, pull through, YO pull through all loops on hook)
Rnd(s) = round(s)
sc(s) = single crochet(s)
sp(s) = space(s)
st(s) = stitch(es)
YO = yarn over


Each nation square of the blanket (Water, Earth, Fire, Air) will be completed separately then joined together at the end. You will be working with two colors at the same time – the foreground color (for the actual design on the chart), and the background color.

Download the charts here (rightclick and save as):


On the chart:
1 white box = 1 sc in BG color
1 grey box = 1 cluster stitch in FG color

Do not break the yarn to change colors! Instead, you will be carrying both colors through the entire time, crocheting one color around the strand of the other. The outside color will be the visible color; the strand of the color running through the crocheted rows will be hidden (it will, however, peek through the spaces, which creates a nice visual texture). This way it will be simple to switch between BG and FG when you need to.

You’ll need to carry the second color through the entire square, even through large patches of only the BG color where the second color is not needed, in order to keep the same thickness throughout.

To change colors, see how the air FG color is carried through the middle:

And you just crochet around that middle color:

To switch, when you begin a sc or cluster st, just grab the opposite color and continue with the pattern.

Note: You’ll probably have to tug the inside strand along as you go, so that it doesn’t bunch up in the spaces.


To begin a square:
ch 95 in BG color, turn, sc the entire way across (94 stitches).
This is row 1.
ch 1, turn
1 sc in BG color; attach FG color with 1 slip stitch; continue with BG color scs

Then work the rows according to the chart. At the end of each row, ch 1 and turn. Make sure you are single crocheting with the BG color in the white boxes, and using the cluster stitch with the FG color on the grey boxes. Pay attention to whether you are working on the front or back side of the project as well, since you’ll be turning it back and forth, and you do have to account for that while working the squares. (So, for instance, if you work row 1 by reading the chart from left to right, you'll end the row on the right side. When you turn the work, you'll still be at the right side, so you'll have to work row 2 by reading the chart from right to left. And so on and so forth.)

When you’ve finished a square, finish off only the BG color and weave in end. Use the FG color to make a clean, exterior edge for each square:

1. hdc around all four sides of the square. (For this first row, instead of going in the v’s on the top and bottom of the square, I dipped down into the first row of spaces in order to make the edging stronger)
Row 1 corners: hdc 3 times in the corner st

2. dc, ch 1, skip next st, dc, ch1, skip next st – repeat all the way around
Row 2 corners: dc in corner st, ch 3, dc in same st

3. hdc around
Row 3 corners: dip down to hdc 3 times in the corner space of the
first row. This makes the edge a bit stronger, as well as allowing
the corners to look cleaner.

Break yarn and weave in end.


To join it all together:
Once all four squares are done (which is no small feat, so go you!) it’s time to join them all together. You’ll first connect them vertically (Water on top of Air; Earth on top of Fire), and then horizontally (Water&Air on the left side, Earth&Fire on the right side).


First, join Water to Air, and Earth to Fire with that middle border. With the Buff color, sc 5 rows at the bottoms of the Water and Earth squares, and 5 rows to the top of the Air and Fire squares. Carry a second color through the borders as well so that, as stated above regarding the regular nation squares, the same thickness can be maintained throughout the blanket. I carried my leftover Aran through (you should have about half a skein left, which is plenty).

You’ll need to join them by sewing. The best method I found was the mattress stitch. It will leave a seam on the back, but the front will be wonderfully invisible, which is the important part.

With the right sides facing up, line up the bottom of Water with the top of Air. Make sure they’re facing the right ways! This is an in-progress picture of sewing Water and Air together:

To begin sewing, thread the yarn needle with a long strand of yarn and insert the needle in the bottommost space on the left side (in these pictures, the Water square), and then through the bottommost space on the right side (the Air square). Pull these tightly closed.

Stitching up the seam will be done by simply threading the yarn back and forth between the posts of the crochet stitches.

First the left one:

And pull the yarn through (it doesn’t have to be tight just yet):

Then insert the needle through the corresponding post on the opposite side and pull through:

When you have a few threaded stitches, pull the yarn up and away from you so that the stitches come together and close tightly. I found that it works best if you do this in intervals of 4 or 6 stitches.

Do this the whole way up the seam, and end it by connecting the top two corners the same way you started it.

Repeat this to connect the Earth and Fire squares.

Ta-da! Once you get the hang of it, this is not difficult at all and goes rather fast. If you’re confused, I’d recommend watching the video of it on (on this page, the video called "mattress stitch" under the Finishing section). They show how to do this for knitting, but it’s by watching this that I was able to understand the principle and adapt it to work here.



Now you have Water and Air joined, and Earth and Fire joined. It’s time to connect these two pieces together, which will be done exactly the same way. Right sides facing up, Sc 5 rows on the right side of the Water&Air piece, and sc 5 rows on the left side of the Earth&Fire piece. Again, carry your leftover Aran yarn through the middle.

You’ll notice in the pictures of my finished blanket, in this joining border I added rows of a dark brown (Café) colored yarn mostly to make this neutral border more interesting! (You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, this is your blanket, so it’s up to you… if you choose not to do this, you’ll need to buy 3 skeins of Buff instead of 2) So for each of these sides, do: 2 sc rows of Buff, 1 sc row of Café, 2 sc rows of Buff.

Join each side together with the mattress stitch, as described above, using the Buff color.


Exterior Border:

You’ve reached the last step, yay! With the right side facing, you’ll crochet around the entire blanket to complete a nice exterior border. Join with Buff in any corner, and then do so in the following:

1 Rnd each of:

sc in Buff
dc Buff
sc Buff
dc Café
sc Buff
dc Buff
sc Buff

To go around the corners for this: sc (or dc, depending on the row you’re on) 3 times in the corner stitch before moving on. Again, run your extra Aran through the middle.

Finally, once that is completed, cut the Buff and Aran yarns and weave in ends. Join the Café color in any corner and do the edging the same as you did for each individual square (the list of 3-numbered rows described above, just after the completion of a square).


Go buy yourself a well-deserved latte… then sit back, curl up with your new blanket, and bask in the Avatar love.



I’d recommend forming the Earth square first because the design is the simplest, and it starts out completely symmetrical.

At the beginning of each nation square, it will start to buckle and curl as you start to put in the cluster stitches (because these take up more room than a sc). But don’t worry about it, and just keep going; it will work itself out as you progress.

Print out each pdf and mark off the rows as you do them. It makes things much easier, trust me!

Since I used cheap acrylic yarn, the project turns out not as comfy as you might like a blanket to be (if you are one of those lucky ones who are not on a budget, you may prefer to use a higher quality yarn). However, you can easily soften up the completed project by rinsing it thoroughly with some water and putting it in the dryer with a dryer sheet (or run it through the washing machine with some fabric softener). I did this separately with each square as I finished them. Then when the blanket was done I just rinsed the borders and put it in the dryer in order to soften up those parts up. This trick also helped to take out any extra curling the edges of each square might have.

And this one last, very crucial tip: Make sure to watch your Avatar DVDs while working on this blanket. On repeat. For several hours at a time. …Or, you should watch them even when you’re not working on this blanket, really.

And remember to HAVE FUN.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is (c) Viacom, Nickelodeon, Mike & Bryan, etc etc.