It was one of those patterns I knew I wanted to make one day as soon as I saw it...
So here's the story behind my "Owl Obsession" afghan. My house is not decorated this way but I love colorful whimsical things and this afghan caught my eye. I had the project saved in my Ravelry library as a "someday" project.
I have this other problem... I can't sit still without constantly doing something. My daughter was in a show the first weekend in July. That meant I'd be doing a lot of driving to and from rehearsals as well as a lot of sitting around waiting on her. I needed a portable project for the car. I had spent time this spring finishing up several unfinished projects. I had told myself I wouldn't start any new projects until all my unfinished ones were done. I have another full size afghan that I'm working on. However, it's a full size afghan, worked in one piece, and it's not exactly portable at this point in the project.
Friday June 24th... I got sucked in to the internet and found myself looking at project after project on Ravelry and Pinterest well into the wee hours of the morning and I kept coming back to this "Owl Obsession" afghan. No! Don't do it! It wasn't even a free pattern. I know enough about crochet that I rarely pay for a pattern. Usually if I can see a detailed photo I can figure out the pattern on my own. But... I really loved the looks of this. Finally, I shut off my computer without purchasing the pattern and figured I'd find another unfinished project to do in the morning.
Saturday June 25th... First of all, I'm not a morning person and this was one of those very rare Saturday mornings where I had NO commitments and I could sleep in as long as I liked. I woke up at 7 am, still thinking about the afghan. Now I was counting days... Johnson County Fair entries are due in on July 16th. That gives me roughly 3 weeks to finish this afghan if I want to enter it in the Fair. It's a competition quality pattern. It's a portable project because the owl motifs are worked separately. It's SO FREAKIN' CUTE!
I got online again. There were a bazillion people on Ravelry that had already made the afghan. Pictures were adorable. But, most were saying this was the project that would never end. A bajillion yarn ends to weave in from all the different colors and pieces. I would be different. I was a fast crocheter. I was more organized. I could be focused. Yup, I had it in my head that I would do this project by now and talked myself into it. I purchased the pattern then gleefully sped off to JoAnn as soon as they opened at 9 am.
Happier than a pig in mud right now!
Starting on my owls
Worked on the afghan all weekend and this is what I had done by Sunday (6/27) night...
After that, I had to go to work. Boo. I did work on filling in the octagons around the motifs whenever I had a moment so by Saturday July 3rd it was looking like this...
The original pattern called for worsted weight yarn but since I was using a lighter weight fingerling yarn I used a smaller crochet hook. Therefore, after making all the motifs like the pattern indicated, the blanket was still very small - like less than 24" across. It's a baby blanket but that's still too small. I decided I needed to do another row of motifs all the way around.
Another row of motifs took me another week but by July 9th it was looking like this...
Saturday July 9th... I still had plenty of colored yarn but I knew I was going to run out of the white yarn. I still had to make nine half-octagons to fill in the spaces around the blanket plus I needed yarn to make the owl's eyes and stitch the whole thing together. I had the weekend off work so the goal was to finish the afghan over the weekend. I then had to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were going to be spent baking since all the Johnson County Fair entries were due in by 11 am on Saturday morning. I would finish the afghan Sunday, Monday at the latest. That would give me a day to block the afghan and leave it to dry a day. Blocking is when you wet the yarn so the fibers relax and pin your finished item out into the shape you want. It makes for a nice clean look for your finished product. I still needed to put a border on it after that but I figured that wouldn't take much time.
I had worked on Friday and was tired so I slept in on Saturday. Finally got to Hobby Lobby late in the morning... and they didn't have any of the white yarn I needed. It's important to get the same kind and color of yarn so the whole project is consistent. I couldn't buy any white yarn; I needed the Baby Bee Sweet Delight "Angel" color. The lady at the store said they were going to get a new shipment in on Monday. Monday was too late for my timeline. I ended up calling the other Hobby Lobby stores in Indianapolis and driving all the way out to East Washington Street (about 20 miles out of my way) to get the one skein of yarn I needed.
Finally got home midafternoon and started crocheting the half-octagons and putting the details on the owls.
Owls came out adorable! I put different expressions on all of them by varying their eyes.
While I was making the eyes I ran out of my first skein of white yarn and started in on the second skein. Right away I could feel that this yarn was different. It was slightly thicker. By now though it was too late to go back to Hobby Lobby as they close at 8 pm and they are not open on Sundays so I continued working on the owls with the thicker yarn.
First skein on the top, second skein on the bottom.
At some point during the weekend I was also online and happened upon how to make seamless joins. A seamless join is a way to hide where you "join" your yarn when you are finished with what you are working on. The photo below shows what my motifs looked like originally...
... and after a seamless join.
My OCD compelled me to rework the ends on all my motifs - all 49 of them - so they had nice seamless joins. The eye and beak detail on the owls also took longer than I anticipated. I didn't get done with them until late on Sunday night. That meant I only slept for 4 hours before going in to work on Monday morning.
Monday July 10th... I made it through work and rushed home to finish putting the afghan together. I had left long "tails" of yarn on all my motifs so I could use those to stitch the motifs into long strips.
The motifs were joined together using a technique called a "flat zipper stitch." This is what it's suppose to look like...
Now all I had to do was stitch the long strips together. Using the new white yarn, I went to work. Two strips in I realized this wasn't going to work. Remember, the new skein was ever so slightly thicker... When you crochet, you end up doubling or tripling the yarn over itself to get your stitch. That extra thickness made a world of difference. The motifs would not lie flat with the thicker yarn holding them together.
See the ridge between the square and the owl?
No amount of blocking was going to fix this.
It was almost midnight. I was exhausted. Frustrated. Mad. Suddenly, it was like a switch had been turned off. This owl obsession was over. I was done with this project. I had to get up in 4 hours to go to work in the morning and do the same the morning after that. I was out of time. I had spent WAY too much time and effort making this afghan "perfect." I was not going to ruin it with sloppy joining. To finish it properly I would have to take apart all the motifs that had been joined with the thicker yarn and find the thinner yarn to join them... or, since I had more than enough of the thicker yarn, I could take apart ALL the joined motifs and join them using a blind stitch technique where the stitching doesn't show at all. In any case there was not enough time to do all this before the County Fair turn in on Saturday.
So... another unfinished project. I probably won't touch this again until this year's fair season is over. I have every intention of finishing it and entering it in next year's fair. It just needs a proper finish. The proper finish is what takes the longest time in any project. That's why my Spider Web doily and lacy pink angora shawl both took over a year to finish. Crocheting the "body" of the project is fun. It's the finishing that is tedious. I think I dreaded weaving in the yarn ends and blocking the doily and the shawl so much that I stopped crocheting both with only a couple rows to go. On the other hand, good finish work is what makes the items eye catching - professional looking, neat, symmetrical, flat.
This afghan deserves to be finished properly.