EYES ON ASSEMBLY. AT LAST.
The multi-month eyeball square bolster project continues to roll along. I began this project around 25 September 2022, and first posted about it back at the beginning of October. The end may be in sight (pun intended) but it’s not imminent. Yet.
When last we visited this effort, I had just finished constructing the base pillow form to be covered by the (then) recently completed crocheted squares. I also in the final stages of joining the squares together to make the six sides of the cushion cover.
Now crochet in this style is not as opaque as knitting. There are holes, most notably in the points of the squares, and at the two sharp corners of the eyeball itself. These are large enough to see whatever is behind the crocheted layer. Obviously I didn’t want the Pepto-Bismol pink of the blanket covered foam slab to show, so I needed an inner cover. I tossed around the idea of making an entire second zippered cover out of black cotton duck – a canvas-like fabric, for durability and washability (after pre-shrinking). But then I thought about other pillows I’ve covered in knitting and crochet. The yarn layer on them was stretchy, and sometimes wandered around the inner pillow as it was used. Given that this piece is so big – the entire back of a low mid-century sofa – wandering could be expected. So I decided to cut panels of prewashed fabric, hem them, and then tack them to the assembled crocheted sides prior to joining those sides into the final pillow cover.
The first step was to measure the enrobed foam slab. Sure enough, a small bit was added to my final dimensions. Since I had the foam cut to size for my blocked but relaxed crochet assemblages, I am reasonably confident that stitching the crochet to panels in the newly measured dimensions would yield a good, close fit – stretching the crochet out a bit, providing inner stability against shifting and bagging. Note that I did subtract a quarter inch all the way around to leave the edge stitch of the crocheted squares revealed since I need to use those in fastening the sides together, and added a hem allowance.
First I machine-hemmed all of the sides of each modesty panel EXCEPT for the edges on which I expect to mount the zipper. Not up to that yet, so I’m still thinking that out. In any case, here’s a mid-tack photo showing the machine hemmed panel being affixed to the back, leaving the edge row of crochet (green) free for later attachment.
After all six pieces were prepped with their backings, I was ready to begin assembly.
That’s all 128 eyeballs. There are four more – two worked while achieving gauge, and two unknowingly worked in excess of need. One of the side strips is flipped over on top to show the backing. A loose edge which will be employed in zipper installation is at the bottom of that strip. Right after this I sewed three of the four narrow strips together to make one continuous band that wraps around the edges of my foam block. I left the last one free. It’s going to be the “drop seat” around which that zipper wraps, and needs special treatment.
Now to join with I-Cord. It’s simple once the right needle size is determined. I experimented on those spare squares until I found the needle size that produced an I-Cord that was stitch for stitch even in height to the width of my edge crochet chains.
To attach, I took those DPNs, and cast on four. Then holding my designated pieces back to back, I picked up another stitch through the outermost loop of the first chain on both edges to be joined. That makes five stitches on my DPN. I knit off three, then did a SSK, and picked up a stitch through the next chain stitch on both edges to be joined. And I kept going, making sure that each square was neatly butted to its neighbor, with an additional row of joining I-Cord worked into the columns of slip stitch that attach the squares together. For that my DPN needle tip wasn’t enough to tease a loop through, I had to pull out a smaller crochet hook to grab a loop, pull it up and mount it at the end of my DPN.
The image above shows four stitches on the DPN, ending with the SSK, just before I picked up the next stitch through the crocheted edge chains of the squares to be joined.
Now it was time for the corner. For that I needed a bit of ease, but I didn’t want to make a big loop like I had done before. I experimented a bit and decided to work up to the corner stitch on the squares, then make ONE round of free I-Cord, work the corner stitch in attached I-Cord, work another round of free I-Cord, and then continue on in my new direction as usual. That made a tight but non-distorting 90-degree turn:
Here’s the piece so far. First long side seam done, first short side seam done, along with the two corner transitions between them. I’m quite pleased with the way the raised “piped” seam looks. Now to continue on to finish this side, and begin the Special Treatment for the zippered end. Wish me luck!
Progress on the I’ll Be Watching You cushion. I’ve got six basic color combos done, as specified by Younger Offspring (the co-designer and recipient). We are in consultation right now about whether there need to be additional color arrangements of the lime, celadon, russet, and white – black being in stable placement across all the squares.
As often happens, when I started I had a general idea of what I was going to do, but now that things are underway, ideas are coming together. Here are some thoughts.
- I experimented with three crochet hooks in various sizes and styles ranging from 2.75 mm to 3.25 mm. The best results were with the Clover 3.25 mm. That’s what I used to do the set above.
- Crocheting in to end off as I progress is absolutely the right way to go. Every square has eleven concentric rings. That’s 22 ends per motif, or with 118 squares – 2,596 yarn ends to deal with. I don’t want to think about the pain if I left them until the very end. Right now each one only has the green tail from the final ring. Those of you who have received granny square throws and rejoice in their riot of color, know that someone loved you enough to deal with all of those bits.
- The black is slightly heavier than the other colors. But because every square has the identical use and placement of black, there is no differential effect on overall square dimensions.
- Both yarns are acrylic. There’s some rippling, as is common in crochet. I may have to “kill” the yarn – pinning them out and using steam and possibly pressure to set the fiber permanently in order to get rid of those undulations. It’s a bit more savage than blocking 100% wool which does relax each time it’s washed. “Killed” acrylic never bounces back. Before I commit to doing it however, I will try the method out on one of the experimental squares I made. Although it’s not the same dimensions as these keepers, it does have the rippled edges that these do, and will make a good test subject.
- For final assembly into the full bolster I will probably do mattress stitch in the neon green to unite the green outer rims. BUT my plan is to make a square edge cushion, so I am thinking of using knit I-Cord to seam the front and back of the cushion to its edges, to make the equivalent of a piped edge. This would also be in the neon green, and will disguise a zipper at one end so the cover can be removed and washed.
- Because there are gaps in the crochet where it would show through, I will be making a second cover for the cushion, probably out of pre-shrunk black cotton duck or light canvas. That will also have a zipper for easy removal and washing.
- The bolster at the center of this also needs to be constructed. I am thinking of using a single piece of dense upholstery foam, cut to size and wrapped with quilt batting. Not sure if yet a third cover will be required to keep it all in place inside the black cotton cover. But if there is, it will be something like inexpensive muslin, and permanently sewn (no zipper).
Because progress on this thing will mostly be just adding to a tottering pile of completed squares, I will probably hold off additional blather until something significant happens. Otherwise visits here would be like watching grass grow.
KEEPING AN EYE ON CROCHET
It’s Spooky Season, and I celebrate with a slightly off beat bit of crochet. This is the first block of many, destined together to become a long bolster cushion for a sofa.
Younger Offspring whose apartment décor sits at the junction of vintage, Goth, mid-century modern, and exuberant and individual artistic expression has requested this and picked the colors. I provide the manual labor, and enjoy the fun of the journey.
The pattern chosen is Granny’s Eye, a paid pattern available via Ravelry. The yarns were chosen for value and wash properties. The black is KnitPicks Brava Sport, with a native knit gauge of 24 stitches = 4 inches (10 cm). The other colors are all Herschnerr’s 2-Ply Afghan Yarn. Although it has the same gauge, it is not as dense as the black, and has a more airy hand, sort of like vintage Shetland sport yarn. As a result it’s an unruly crochet, with the strands separating and shredding – very difficult to get a clean “grab” on them when forming the stitches.
I am using a 3.0 mm hook, to make squares that are 4.75 inches (12 xm) across. Preliminary calculations are that 11 x 4 units for the front and back, plus a squared side edge of one unit all the way around yield a finished cushion dimension of 52.25 inches x 19 inches x 4.75 inches (132.7 cm x 46.3 cm x 12 cm). That means I have only 117 more to do. I may experiment with a hook one size smaller to see how I like the density. I want it as tight as possible for this use. If so, my size/number of units calculation will have to be redone. In any case, there are going to be a lot of eyeballs in my immediate future.
Oh – that forehead cloth I’ve been working on? I’ve put it aside to get cracking on this bespoken project request. I’ll go back to it as soon as I can.
Being craft-multi-dexterous means that I can cycle among knitting, embroidery, and crochet (and sometimes sewing) and so avoid boredom or falling into a creative rut. Highly recommended. 🙂
I’ve now experimented with hook sizes and styles. I most prefer a Clover 3.25 mm hook with its soft, wide grasping handle. For some reason the 3.0 mm hook I have from a set of mutiples must have an unusual alignment for throat and hook end, because I can’t pull it through a stitch without it catching. I can get the same gauge with better tension using the more comfortable Clover model. On to mass production!
EARTH TO STRING, COME IN STRING
Ok, I know it’s been a while. Where have I been?
Working on several projects, two of them in major Stealth Mode.
Stealth Project #1 is a baby blanket. That much I can say. I can also say that the recipients are family, and they have specifically requested cotton and pink. I’ve done something original, an improvised pattern, and it’s done. But I won’t post pix here because family does visit this page and I want the finished object to be at least a bit of a surprise.
Stealth Project #2 is for my Stealth Apprentice. She’s starting up an Etsy business, hand-dyeing silk embroidery thread using researched historical dye recipes. She’s busy perfecting her products, and I’m her Beta-Tester-in-Chief. I won’t show the sampler where her products are being play-tested against standard DMC cotton floss, but eventually we will break Stealth Mode and post details and links.
Project #3 is a volunteer effort. I’m one of many people in the Arlington Knitting Brigade, a town Council for the Arts project that is working to do a yarn-bombing installation on the public bike path that bisects the town, for display in September. The group provided acrylic yarn in orange, light turquoise, white, and fuscia, with permission to eke out that lot with stash colors, in order to make a piece that’s 2×5 feet – knit, crocheted, in macramé, weaving, whatever. I’m woefully behind, but getting there. As you can see I’ve chosen a rather chaotic mix of crochet and knitting. Younger Daughter says that the thing has a look that reminds her of the classic kids’ game Candy Land:
I am going to have both aggressive blocking and a TON of ends to finish!
For the record, my piece goes at the very top of one of the trees, far from eyes that can see the questionable bits.
Project #4 is yet another pair of socks, the latest in my constant stream of briefcase projects. I carry a pair of socks on the needles with me just about everywhere I go, working on it in stolen moments while waiting for appointments, getting the car inspected, waiting for a movie to start, or standing on lines at post offices or ticket counters.
This pair is in Plymouth Neon Now, worked toe-up with a short rowed heel, on US 00 (1.75mm) needles. It’s 76 stitches around (19 stitches on each of four needles), with an improvised texture pattern on the cuff. The feet are totally plain – I find that is the most comfortable inside my shoes. I started this pair in mid July, and finished last week while waiting at the optometrist. Needless to say, I immediately cast on for the next pair.