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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Intarsia tips/grad afghan completion, day 9

graph from which I created the afghan
 My project is completed and ready to be washed and dried before packing up to deliver. I spent a few hours a day for 9 days on this throw. I normally like to crochet top to bottom (or bottom to top if I'm honest), but when there are lots of color changes in a single row then the possibility to get all those colors tangled is very high! 

When I see a lot of color blocks (areas of the same color next to areas of a different color-like in the 2015) I sometimes will decide to work the afghan from the side instead. In the next picture you can see where I've started the very left edge of the tassel in the graph's design.  Even though the photo lays the work horizontally, it's the columns of the graph that I'm working. 
Getting started is the easiest part.  In the first day's work I only just started changing colors.  This particular graph I used 2 dc per graph square, while several graphs use 1 sc per graph square. So I count the number of graph squares and double it to get the number of dc stitches. This graph is 75 stitches high so I crocheted 150+1 for the starting chain (75 x 2 = 150 + 1 for beginning dc=151). Even though i start crocheting in the 3rd chain from the hook, I always used a ch 2 turning chain as first dc of the row (you may use a ch 3, but I think that makes my work look loopy and loose on the edges so I ch 2). When I got to the first color change row, I counted the number of purple squares before it turned to black, crocheted that far, then changed to black yarn and crocheted the black stitches over the working purple yarn (this is called "tapestry crochet") because there were only a few stitches of a different color.

The next day's work shows the black stitches getting wider and wider apart, I used a second skein of black (as you see in the photo) and did not carry them across the work.  Only one purple was used because there were only a few black stitches at a time to carry them under. Another thing I take into consideration is the contrast of the yarn.  Since this is a dark purple, it didn't show under the black as a light color would have.  This method of working each area of a color with a new skein of yarn is called "intarsia."

 On day 3 I started the white of the numbering and the cap.  At this point I did start another purple skein so I wouldn't be carrying it under the stark white and have it show up. In the photo to the left you can see several strands of working yarn attached to the afghan.  When I change colors I leave the previous color behind if I'm not carrying it through, and I pick it back up where needed as I work my way back.

There are some places where I decided to measure the yarn and cut it.  Instead of buying several skeins of yarn of the same color and using only part of each of them, I count how many graph squares of one color are in one area, measure how much yarn it takes to make up one graph square's worth of dc and figure how much yarn it will take to cover the whole area.  I pull out that much yarn and cut it off the skein then ball it up (as you see to the right) to keep it out of the way as I work.  Then I can use that new end of the skein in a different place on the graph when I need it.

At this point in my work, I realized I had miscounted somewhere along the line and was not going to unravel days and days of work to fix it! Counting stitches is important when doing colorwork.  It can throw your whole design off if you miscount.  Of course, as I was taught, you can hide nearly anything if you know how!  On this day, I had to fudge and blur my lines a bit to make up for a mistake that I didn't see was worth unraveling several rows and have a pile of unraveled yarn getting tangled at my feet.  Now I do unravel for big mistakes if I think they'll be noticed or if it is not possible to hide.

While I crocheted this portion, I was very excited because I was past the halfway point and could see the end coming nearer!  It went quicker too, because I didn't have so many color changes and even though it doesn't seem to take much time to switch yarn colors, it adds up and takes a long time to get through a project with a lot of color changes.  Even longer if you're carrying the unused strand through your work because you have to keep track of that and make sure you're covering it up with each stitch.

 You may also notice that I tuck in my ends as I go instead of leaving them for later.  That's my personal choice because I find the work tedious and prefer to do it one at a time and get it out of the way instead of doing them all at once and getting frustrated or mad because I missed one or I'm not finished as quickly as I thought I'd be. Besides all that it looks nicer! I get more satisfaction from my work as I progress if it looks neat and tidy.  I guess when I see ends dangling I just see more work and not how the final product will look!

Here, I realized that the miscount I made earlier was going to affect the design and that I needed to do something about it!  I think I hid it cleverly enough by adding or subtracting a stitch here and there in the design, or by increasing or decreasing where I didn't think it would be noticed.

Be honest, can you tell?  I don't think the recipient will know if I don't tell her!

My last step was to add a border.  You can't tell from the photo, but I went around it in purple first and the scalloped edge with white is done on purpose.  I wanted a more feminine look for this one than for the black one I did.

So, my project is completed and done on schedule, too!  Actually it's done a day early because I took a little extra time yesterday to complete it when I saw how close I was to being done.