A little while back, one of this blog’s readers, Flo, was in the midst of working on the Sophie’s Universe crochet project and shared some of her mid-project thoughts with us in a post that I did over on About.com Crochet. She’s since completed the popular crochet project and is back with an update and some tips.
Sophie in the beginning! All photos from Flo.
Background on Sophie’s Universe
In case you aren’t familiar with it, this was a popular crochet-along project hosted by Dedri Uys of Look at What I Made. It ran for twenty weeks starting in January 2015. Dedri released the instructions on her blog and then Esther made video tutorials with Dedri’s approval for those people, like Flo, who learn best through watching videos. Many people followed along and created their own wonderful Sophie designs. Of course, the instructions are all now available so you can create your own Sophie even though the CAL is complete.
Interview with Flo
- How Flo got involved in the Sophie’s Universe CAL
- The difficulties and joys of the process as it began
- 3 major things that Flo had learned from the project at the midway point
- Flo’s favorite parts and her favorite round (at that stage)
Update from Flo
Now that she’s had a chance to complete the whole project, Flo stopped in with an update. She begins by saying:
“May 25, 2015 was my 1st year anniversary in learning to crochet. If you would have asked me then or even 6 months ago if I would be able to do what I did, I’d say not on your life!”
That can be one of the best parts of a CAL, because you are learning a lot but you’re doing it in bite-sized chunks, step-by-step, along with everyone else, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Flo knew a few of the basic stitches before she began the project, including the sc, hdc, dc, v-stitch and working in only one loop. By the time that she was done, she had learned more than two dozen new crochet stitches! These included various post stitches, treble stitches, picot, crab stitch, clusters, bobbles, puff stitch and more.
I asked her about the post stitches specifically because I know that those can be hard for some people to master at first. She said
“I had the help of Esther doing the videos so she would point, show, describe and talk about what she was doing and I could re-play it if I needed to. At the beginning I did that. With the double treble and triple treble, it was all about remembering how many times to wrap yarn around the hook and remembering to take two loops off each time.”
When asked about the other stitches, Flo says:
I grew to love popcorn stitches as they make beautiful tulips. I love all of the flower stitches actually. The hardest stitch would be the crab stitch.”
That was something that she had mentioned in her first interview. And some of her other advice from then still sticks.
“I still say count your stitches! Taking out 170 stitches in the later rounds because I put two stitches in one stitch twice in a row at the beginning of a side is a lesson in patience. It’s still worth the effort and pride in the work.”
One of the things that Flo learned after that first interview was that she really needed to do some blocking. Through emails with Dedri, she realized that she needed to block Sophie in the middle of the projects (when Dedri first suggests it) because otherwise it will bulge.
“The kids’ / exercise mats are a great investment and less money than the blocking mats. I’m sold on blocking now. It makes the acrylics softer. If you don’t have a burst of steam button on your iron, get a steamer as I got a slight burn on my hand from the iron. I keep aloe vera gel in the fridge so the burn was gone in the morning. I spent $40 on a small hand held one. It doesn’t hold a lot of water but enough to block my blanket in thirds. I underestimated the size of the blanket when I ordered the blocks so I improvised. The hand held steamer has plenty of steam to block a stack of granny squares.”
“I really love the fork blocking pins that Dedri recommended. They are pricey but worth it versus the T-pins. There’s something about the 2-prong approach that helps pin the square or whatever. The T-pins also work and are a lot less money.
I noticed that Flo also uses stitch markers, so I asked her about that. She shared:
“The stitch markers were used to count to make sure you had the right amount of stitches in a round or side. When the blanket went from 4 to 6 sides, the stitch markers were used to mark the corner stitches as they would change from round to round. On one of the rounds we had to use yarn for markers as there were too many stitches to mark; it was to help with the placement of stitches in the following round. They are also good to use as a place holder to hold your yarn in place.”
At the end of the project there were options for turning the blanket into a rectangle (from a square) but Flo chose to leave it as a square, the way it was originally intended to be. Dedri also released suggestions for a border to end the project but Flo decided to choose one of her own, really personalizing the finished Sophie.
What’s next for Flo
Flo really loved making the Sophie and says, “I got a little melancholy as I caught up and the end was near. I loved every minute I spent on my blanket. I’ll be making another for a friend later this summer. I think I’ll make Sophie’s mandala for Christmas gifts that can be used as potholders or a wall hanging.” Flo also found another previous CAL that Esther did videos for and may work on that as well. I asked a few extra questions about all of that:
What do you like about doing a CAL instead of just a regular pattern?
I like the inspiration and help that comes from others doing the same project. Since I started late with Sophie, I could read the comments of others and learn from them and share in their joy as well. Did I tell you about the lady who did “open heart surgery” on her Sophie? I bookmarked it if you want to see it. She took out the guts and changed the color! I was “wowed”. It really did make the blanket look better.
Speaking of color, will you do your next Sophie in the same colors?
Some of them. My friend likes turquoise and the designer’s colors are more in alignment with her style than mine so it will have more turquoise.
Will you do anything else differently with that next one?
I will heed my own advice and count my stitches more carefully early on! I’m reminded of a Richard Brautigan book from the 70’s – in it “Cameron was a counter”! It’s all a matter of mindset. I now count my stitches even when it’s as little as 24 stitches for my coffee cozies. (Well almost always, On the V-stitch blankets, I just look to make sure the V’s are aligned!) And, I will block when the designer suggests it. The blanket will look better sooner and it will be easier on me if I just have a little bit to do at the end instead of the whole thing. I recently blocked granny squares individually and then blocked again after I sc them all together. I found it helpful in matching the stitches.
You’ve sure come a long way in crochet in just one year. Where would you like to be a year from now?
I’d like to be able to read a pattern and “get it” without having to rely on a video. With my video Craftsy class with Edie Eckman she is encouraging us to learn to read charts so I’m learning to do that now, which will be a big accomplishment. She says reading charts compliments pattern instructions because of the way a person writes them. The charts are laid out like the pattern so there’s no misunderstanding of what stitch goes where. I used the chart for doing one of the borders on my second lesson. I’d like my hand to be able to handle a smaller hook size and thread and perhaps do some of the kinds of projects my Grandmother did.