02 January 2014

Winter Dreams

Winter Dreams Afghan

I've wanted to make a snowflake afghan with no matching snowflakes ever since I was about 16 years old. I always assumed the snowflakes would be on a blue background because that's what color I see when I go out in the snow.

Mill Creek

When The Lizard took me cross-country skiing for the first time eight years ago, the colors of the shadows on the snow affirmed my afghan would be blue and white.

Shadows and Turns

Slate Creek Snow Shadow Patterns

beautiful winter blues

I could never find just the right blue hues for what I could see in my head, until last year when I began more earnestly dyeing my yarn. Colors began to pop. Specifically, blue colors.

my own flavor of rainbow

ready to use

The afghan began taking more shape in my head, and then, caution was thrown to the wind. I wound off 12 25-yard balls of PFD (prepared for dyeing) worsted yarn and dropped three each in one of four recycled spaghetti sauce jars with various blue concoctions. My idea was for the center of the snowflakes to be white, graduating to powder, medium and robust blue toward the outer edges of each motif.

caked

I hadn't designed a motif yet, but I thought 25 yards would be sufficient for whatever I wound up designing. First mistake.

Second mistakes was the ball-dyeing process. It produced spectacular color gradation with unpredictable but highly desirable (by me) degrees of mottle. But I hadn't clearly thought out how I was going to get the balls of yarn adequately rinsed, dried or into usable center-pull cakes.

Detangling the gloved-handed, quickly hanked and inadequately tied mini skiens after the drying process made me want to walk away from my Winter Dreams forever. Fortunately, the yarn turned out pretty enough that I couldn't stay away too long.

ball-dyed blues

Not all of the dyed yarn had white ends, so I decided to make the snowflakes from undyed yarn, then bind off and make the background with the dyed yarn. Perfect solution to an unforseen dilemma.

However, making the snowflakes from white meant bigger rounds for the background colors, and I soon discovered 25 yards was not enough to complete each motif.

I fashioned 12 beautiful motifs, and every single one of them needed about three to four more yards of dyed yarn. Dyed yarn that matched. Dyed yarn that matched the outer round of each motif.

Ugh.

motif madness

Four weeks turned into six weeks as I attempted to mix blues again after not having written down any notes. Some of the new colors turned out so well, I decided the afghan could be a little bigger. I'd incorporate the new colors, too. Which meant making more snowflakes. Different snowflakes.

All the snowflakes needed to be roughly 3 inches, which I wasn't sure I could continue making completely unique until I made Jelly Yarn snowflake key chains for each of the 22 girls at camp last summer with no patterns and no diagrams for inspiration. The key chains, when done, weren't all entirely unique, but I got enough variety to boost my confidence that Winter Dreams really could come true.

glow-in-the-dark Jelly Yarn snowflake key chains for camp

Once I finished more snowflakes, I needed more graduated yarn. I wasn't about to do the ball-dye again. Ever. I wondered if blanks would work, sort of like plain potholders, partially dipped and allowed to soak up the dye, with gravity forming my natural gradation.

I made a bunch of blanks, this time, incorporating 30 yards of yarn each. I didn't want to run out again on the final round of each motif! This meant I had a few tiny little balls of yarn left over at the end of the entire project. Stabbed with toothpick knitting needles, they make awesome Christmas ornaments.

toothpick knitting

My first blank thought, of course, was to knit the blanks. I couldn't find a single pair of size 8 knitting needles anywhere in the house. I have them. Somewhere. Probably stuffed in PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks), full of stitches. And the knitting machine still isn't up and running yet.

So I crocheted my blanks.

I expected unraveling the blanks could result in a wee bit of heartache, but the "singles" did just fine. At one point, I decided it would be more time-efficient if I made three-strand blanks. Three-strand blanks were much faster to create, but unraveling and winding into three separate balls without balls running haywire across the floor and without getting tangled was the anticipated heartache times three. I learned from experience it's worth the time it takes to create three blanks for each color.

crocheted blank

working from a blank

With all the motifs made but lacking the joining round, afghan assembly was a snap and took place in just two nights. All I had to do was randomly arrange the motifs, then join away as I finished all the final rounds. The majority of ends had been woven in as I worked (as occurs in all my multi-color projects), so the final end for each motif was all I had to weave in, and I did each one as I went.

I finished the last motif and had only that one end to weave in, and voila!

unfinished motifs

My Winter Dream finally came true! It has been a long process, but the reward is the final project. This is my favorite of all the afghans I've ever made! This project was worth all the time and tribulation it entailed. I love to look at it. I love to take pictures of it. I love to wrap up in it.

Winter Dreams

Winter Dreams

The pattern? You bet. It will be one of the awesome highlights in my next MS-150 fundraising snowflake pattern booklet, due to be released next Monday. (WOOHOO!!!) Just working on the final touches...

Winter Dreams

20 comments:

  1. Wow! It's so beautiful! I love the blues, they are just perfect with snowflakes and winter. You are so talented and inspiring.

    Blessings always sweet friend.

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    1. Thank you, Stitchy! It was fun putting my favorite colors together in this project!

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  2. That one is sure shiny, I tried skiing once or twice, feel on my butt more often that not lol

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    1. I spend a lot of time on my behind when I'm attempting to cross-country ski, too, Pat!

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  3. GORGEOUS Deborah! stunning, just as you are, inside and out!
    love and prayers and looking forward to your new fund-raising booklet!
    (ps the link up in the top right corner of your blog says year 2015- you made me look twice at my calendar!)

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    1. Thank you, Cara! The fundraising for multiple sclerosis definitely can be confusing. What donations are made this year apply to next year, so I'm indeed trying to raise money for 2015, but I do still have to raise $400 by about mid-June to participate in this year's ride. But my status for this year's ride was accomplished with last year's fund-raising. Is your head spinning yet? Mine never stops!

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  4. What beautiful colors! You are so creative!

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    1. Why thank you, Charlotte! I do really love these colors!

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  5. Absolutley beautiful. You inspire me to work thread again after so many years of not doing so.

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    1. Thank you, Delena! Good to hear from you again!

      You're in luck with this project... it's worsted weight, so no reading glasses required for this one!

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  6. Hello,
    This Christmas I discovered crocheting. Now I am "hooked"! I'm sure I'm the first person who ever came up with that pun. Anyway, I needed an excuse to continue to exercise my new addiction, so I went hunting for projects for next Christmas. I found you. Thank you so much for all the work your treasure trove represents, and for all the time you have spent making it available to the world! I haven't tried my first snowflake yet, but the thread and hooks are on their way to me as I write. In the meantime I have been cataloging my favorites among your patterns. I may need to come up with more people to make these for because I'm pretty sure once I get started I won't be able to stop. Then again I can't think of a good reason to stop anyway. Except to feed my cats and make more coffee.
    I can't thank you enough for sharing all of your genius. Please keep climbing and biking and dye-ing and crocheting!

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    1. Thank you, Deanne, and welcome to crochet! I hope you enjoy the time you spend crocheting. I think this is just about the most beautiful comment I've ever received, and your cat is adorable!

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  7. A beautiful finish for your Winter Dream Afghan. To this day, I am still in awe of you creating more than 52 snowflakes a year. Wow. Happy New Year to a great lady.

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    1. Thanks, Maria! I kind of wonder about my sanity sometimes when I'm making snowflakes in, say... the heat of August! May this coming year be bright and knitty for you!

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  8. I love this! And thank you for doing it to raise funds for MS research. I can't wait to donate and get this year's book of patterns!

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    1. Thank you, Brenda! I think this year's booklet came out really cool, so I hope you will enjoy it!

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  9. And it makes a lovely shawl too.

    Wow, what a process ... it took me a bit to figure out what a blank was but then it all clicked. You got some gorgeous blues there girl!

    Your other photos in this post are stunning too. I love shadows on snow and try to snap them whenever I can. :)

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    1. Thank you, Sue! I have some blue dye left over from my snow dyeing, and I'm thinking about making more blanks and then making a few more hexies to add to this. I don't think there is any such thing as making it too big! But I also do like it as a shawl. I would miss that.... Hmmm, decisions, decisions!

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  10. This is simply stunning. I continue to be amazed at your beautiful creations. Your photographs tell the story so well along with your descriptions.

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    1. Thank you, Jasmine! I feel so fortunate to live in this winter playground to absorb so much natural inspiration!

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