Monday, December 28, 2015

V-stitch for Victory

The first winter the boyfriend and I were going out, he told me it was cold in his house.  So I thought I should start making my beloved a blanket so it would be done in time for his autumn birthday.  And then maybe Christmas.  Okay, I'm still technically working on it in that it's in a bag and it's really close to being finished.

In preparation for this Christmas (and because I already had a big ass hook), I started work on 5 1/2 hour throw.  Lion Brand has several variations of this pattern--basically, choose super bulky yarn and get V-stitching.  My choice was based on color preferences--the boyfriend likes orange, and Nicole Stitch Studio Heartfelt Heritage had an orange I thought would be good.

This is not actually a 5 1/2 hour throw, even accounting for the fact that I had to work and rest from grappling with a massive plastic hook.  Unless everybody's way better at maneuvering gargantuan crochet hooks than I am, there's no way this is even 6 hours of work even if that's all you did that day.  It's an improvement over the previous Infinity Hours Afghan, and it is a quick project, but you're not going to finish it while binge-watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.


 The final product was 7 skeins of Russet, so about 574 yards of yarn.  The original pattern has a simple edging up the sides and fringe on the ends.  Since the boyfriend and I are both cat owners, I decided against extra yarn hanging off the ends.  I've also never done anything like that, so I have no idea how easy it would be for a bored cat to pull it loose and eat it.  Since the week after your cat eats yarn is fairly unpleasant, I decided to go with a single crochet border all the way around.

This was also a way to incorporate the boyfriend's second signature color, blue.  Despite not going to UVA (other than that one time when we visited Charlottesville), the boyfriend likes orange and blue together, and he was happy with the dark orange and dark blue.

Unfortunately it was 75 degrees on Christmas, so that cut into the blanket enthusiasm.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Easy DIY Emoji Ornament

What you need:

  • Cardstock 
  • Premade round ornament (I found mine at A.C. Moore)
  • Sharpie
  • Mod Podge (for some emoji)

I went with the laughing crying emoji because 1) I do whatever the Oxford English Dictionary tells me is cool and 2) it's my friend Professor of the English Class's signature emoji.

For the circle, I used the insert that came with the ornament as a guide.  Smarter, patient people might want to try tracing it, then cutting, but I had things to do.

Since I only needed a little bit of white for the teeth, I drew most of the face with Sharpie and used a white out pen for the teeth. In case the ornament spins, I drew the face on both sides. The tears won't fit inside the ornament, so they're attached to the front of the ornament using Mod Podge.  

An even easier option for those with holiday shit to do: print out an emoji on photo paper and stick it in a frame.  Hand assembled still counts as handmade!


Monday, November 30, 2015

Kitten Approved Kowl

Large gauge projects are faster, but I feel like wrangling the massive hook is harder on my hands.  In my advanced age, I'm having trouble using smaller/typical sized hooks for long periods of time, and the massive hook seems to have similar problems.  Eventually I'm going to read a point where everything is made with either a J or a K hook.

This is Red Heart Grande in Orchid and a Q hook (with 6 month old kitten for scale). The Classic Chunky Cowl was an impulse project after years of disliking infinity scarves.  I guess if anyone says anything, I'll tell them this is a cowl.

This is another good traveling project since there's only one color, but my brittle old wrists make it hard to sustain.  It was good for when it was the boyfriend's turn to drive in Shenandoah National Park especially since we had lots of overlook breaks, but it probably wouldn't make the cut for a plane trip or long car ride (since I wouldn't be able to work on it for very long at a time).

As for the final result, it's not as much of a "wow" project as the Asymmetrical Neck Warmer or my scarf and fingerless gloves set (which apparently I never posted about).  Even after wearing it to work, I'm still not sure about the final look of it, but it's warm and a big hit with Toro--he wanted to knead the big stitches and then he tried to climb inside it.  This yarn and a similar pattern might make a good kitten bed.
Finished project with kitten tail

Monday, November 23, 2015

Black and White

After Toro the Kitten was adopted, it was time to decide on his signature colors.  Choosing signature colors for one's cat is a very important decision if you're a sad, crazy person.

Although black and white go with almost anything, red is Toro's signature color.  He's got a little red collar (that is currently behind a bookcase)...and all of his hand-me-downs and random toys which are not red.  Also what's left of a cardboard fire truck he and his sibs got to celebrate their last week in the foster system.

Once Toro had a signature color, he needed a little cat blanket of his own.

I've been using leftover yarn to make Snuggles, but I wanted something that could show off black and white stripes.  Plus, what's the point of a new kitten if you can't use him to practice new stitch patterns?

I decided on the cat crochet stitch in alternating black and white with a red border.  There are a few different versions of the pattern online (you know how the internet is about cats).  Primarily I used Crochet Geek and Loops and Rambling. I used a K hook and chained a multiple of 5 (the second link has a multiple of 5+2, but mine seems to have worked out for giving to a cat or a baby).

Dropstitch: Yarn over, insert hook into stitch two rows down.  Pull up a loop--really pull it so it reaches the top row--yarn over, pull up a loop for 5 loops on the hook.  Yarn over, draw through 4 looks, yarn over, draw through 2 loops

Row 1: Dc in 4th ch from hook, dc in next ch, sk 4, *2 dc ch 2 dc (shell) in next ch, sk 4 ch, repeat from * until the last 2 ch, dc in each of the last 2 ch

Row 2: Ch 2, dc in next dc, *shell in ch 1 space, repeat from * across row, dc in last dc, dc in turning chain, change to next color

Row 3: Ch 2, dc in next dc, *dropstitch two rows down, shell in ch 1 space, dropstitch, repeat from * across row, dc in last dc, dc in top of ch 2.

Row 4: Ch 2, dc in next dc, *shell in ch 1 space, repeat from * across row, dc in last dc, dc in top of ch 2

Row 5: Ch 2, dc in next dc, *shell in ch 1 space, repeat from * across row, dc in last dc, dc in top of ch 2, change color

Repeat rows 3-5 until the blanket is the desired length, then do one more Row 3.  For the final row: ch 1, sc in first stitch, ch 2, 2 sc in ch 1 space, * ch 3, 2 sc in ch 1 space, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, ch 2, sc in last 2 dc

Skipping the last Row 3 and Final row makes it hard to shape your last row of kitties.  The trade off is that finishing this way gives the top a "severed heads" look.  Especially with a bright red border!

For the border I used sc, then dc for the second row.  Pretty standard border: go down the sides and wonder if you're doing enough stitches, 3 stitches in the corner, feel confident about doing the backside of the foundation ch, and so on.  I thought about doing a crab stitch or something else subdued yet elegant, but then I remembered that this is for somebody who spent October sitting in a plastic bowl.

He looks like this because I had to lure him onto the blanket with a toy.  He only recently learned how to use a bed instead of a grocery bag or a pile of newspapers, so maybe some day he'll sit in it voluntarily.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Rainbow, purple, and glitter

 What do you give a girl who already has a magical rainbow bag for her birthday?  A doll that also enjoys purple and rainbows!
 This is the same pattern as the 4th of July doll I made for my grandmother a few years ago.  This one is a smaller hook and I actually remembered to put a mouth on!

The doll and the first dress are the Lily Fun in the Sun pattern.  I'm still...skeptical about the body pattern (it involves making some sort of tube), but it's easy to modify to crochet in the round.

To crochet the body in the round, ch 2, then sc 6 in the first chain.  Work increasing rounds until you reach 30 sc, then sc around until the body is two inches from the butt--then you can go back to the pattern as written.

Normally the dolls I make go commando (or have leotards). Since I was hoping to have enough time to make a second outfit (and worried that the Fun in the Sun dress might be too short), this doll has permanent sparkly underwear.  And permanent sparkly shoes.

Feedback from the boyfriend and the sister indicated that the transitional stage of the doll (assembled but no hair or clothes) was unsettling.

Since the doll is going to get multiple outfits, both of her dresses are strapless.  Based on the directions, I suspect that the clothes are designed to stay on once the straps are added. The doll also went to a six year old with two younger brothers, so extra things that get sewn on are just extra things that can get accidentally pulled off.

After finishing the Fun in the Sun Dress (purple and sparkly), I had enough time to make a rainbow dress.  The rainbow dress is the same pattern as the 4th of July dress but with more color changes and more stripes.  Just one rainbow sequence made the dress more of a tunic length and I figured the birthday girl would approve of more rainbows, so I added more stripes.

As always, the patterns recommend sewing yarn onto tape or something?  This requires arcane skills like "threading a sewing machine" and "remembering where a sewing machine is."  My technique is to backstitch the "hair" onto the scalp, then carefully trim the hair once it's all on.

 It might be the yarn (Lion Brand Bon Bons vs Red Heart) or the length, but the rainbow dress came out a bit lumpy.  I'm hoping that the fact that it's hot pink with a rainbow will make up for that.



Monday, November 9, 2015

My motivation for winter projects plummets once it starts to warm up.  This is probably normal given that I live in Virginia, where it's 80 degrees through most of September.  I've wanted to make the Asymmetrical Neckwarmer for awhile, but I had a hard time choosing yarn and then Spring came.  As the wretched heat and humidity of Summer faded away, I looked at what I had of the neckwarmer so far and decided I hated the colors.

Part of the problem with the yarn I'd been using was that the colors didn't change at the right places for this pattern.  After my previous experiences with substitutions gone awry, I decided that if I was going to do this, I needed to find a Landscapes colorway that I liked.

 My version is done with Desert Spring since I wasn't sure I wanted to be a gloriously warm rainbow.  It's made in a long strip, then seamed together at the shoulder.  Since I'm an idiot, I thought it had one arm (it doesn't).  This slightly impeded seaming.

Once the seam is made, the collar's worked around the neck opening.  The pattern says to work the collar until it's about 4", but I went with "until the yarn is almost completely used up."

For whatever reason, this item has gotten more compliments than a lot of my other scarves/crocheted accessories. Apparently the boyfriend's mother now wants him to marry me so she can get one of these.  So, stay tuned for my 300 Craft Projects pre-engagement blog!

Monday, November 2, 2015

It's not really a cover up


This is Toro's first craft blog post.  He was one of my post-Zoot foster kittens.  In August he was hired on permanently.  Here he is sleeping on his first crochet project.

Webby Sundress is my second attempt at a Double Stitch Twins pattern.   I'm pretty sure Stitch Nation yarns ceased to exist, so I did mine with Red Heart Soft.

I was initially just going to use two colors--Watercolors, a variegated shade, for the main dress and Lilac as an accent, but I decided it would look weird to only match one of the colors in Watercolors.  I would like to praise Red Heart's Multicolor Coordinates List, but my A.C. Moore didn't have one of the matching colors and I didn't like the other one when I saw it in person, so I just eyeballed it.  But it helped me choose Lilac to begin with and it's good for star afghans?

Given my statuesque proportions, I used a larger hook and added a few rows to the bodice and middle to make sure that it would actually fall to knee length when worn as a dress.  Since I was using three colors instead of two, I also added a second (third?) stripe to the top section.

I also skipped two of the chains for the belt/halter neck.  This was partially because I wanted to wear the finished project on a date the weekend I finished it, but also because I was happy with the way the two ties looked.  They're long enough that you can wear it around your neck a few different ways--regular halter, criss cross, make a bow in front, etc.

As a mesh dress over an existing dress this was a hit with the boyfriend, but I'm not sure how I feel about it as a skirt.  I don't think black will work given the greens and browns in it, and matching the length is also a bit tricky.

With my current body, I also feel it's not as flattering as a skirt.  The top part feels like it draws way to much attention to my paunch.  I also tried it over a long tank top and leggings but didn't like it (then again, I don't like looking at myself much these days).

Toro helps with the ruffle


I like the way it turned out, but if I were doing this one again I'd pick colors that work better with my existing wardrobe.  The little bit of brown is what kills it since all my neutrals are black and gray (aka light black).

No pictures from my date, so here is what the finished product would look like on a very thin person with a bonus glimpse into my messy closet.