December 21, 2014

Eight Scarves for Gifts

So many scarves!!!

For Christmas this year, I decided to make scarves for all of my in-laws. That's EIGHT scarves! I started them in early November, but the vast majority of the work was done in just the last 8 days before we did our early gift exchange.

Here's the lineup! (Apologies for some of the pictures being a bit blurry. When I took them, I may or may not have been stressed, sleep deprived, and over-caffienated.) All scarves took only one skein of each color.

#1. Finger-knit Cowl

Pattern here!

Made with Red Heart Soft in Wine, held double.

#2. Herringbone Infinity Scarf

Pattern here!

Made with I Love This Yarn in Antique Teal and Dark Raspberry, held double.

#3. Chunky Ribbed Scarf

Pattern here!

Made with Red Heart Soft in Navy, held double.

#4. Half-double crochet stripes

Made with Red Heart Soft in Navy and in Mid Blue, held double.

Chain the length you want, and finish off. Hdc across each row, finishing off and switching colors after each row. Continue making rows until you reach the width you want, ending with the color you started with. Tie on fringe to hide the tails from your rows.

#5. Single crochet stripes

Made with Red Heart Soft in Navy and in Charcoal, held double.

Foundation single crochet the length you want. * Change colors. With new color, chain 1 and turn. Carry your previous color across your work as you use your new color to sc in each stitch across. Repeat from * until you reach the width you want, ending with the same color you started with. Finish off & weave in tails. (By carrying your unused color across each row, you don't have to weave in a bunch of tails when you're done.)

#6. Scheffield Infinity Scarf

Pattern here!

Made with Red Heart Soft in Grape and in Charcoal, held double.

This piece gets made in a flat rectangle, and joined into an infinity scarf when the stitching is done. I put a twist in it when joining, to make it a mobius scarf.

#7. Minecraft Creeper Neck Warmer

SURPRISE! It's also a mask!

The nephew loved this, and immediately put it over his face! The neck warmer concept was a little lost on him, though. ;)

Made with Red Heart Soft in Guacamole.

I used a single crochet thermal stitch for this one. This provided a nice, warm fabric without holes in it. An 8mm hook allowed for a good drape and softness. I stitched it up as a flat rectangle, steam blocked it, sewed on black felt for the face, then joined the ends to make the tube.

#8. Rolling in the Deep Infinity Scarf

Pattern here!

Made with Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny in Citrus and in Aqua.

#8.5. Miniature Rolling in the Deep scarf

The big version of the Rolling in the Deep scarf was for my niece. I used the leftover yarn to make a miniature version of the scarf so she can dress one of her American Girl dolls to match her.

I ran out of time on this one. I'd wanted to do a third section with stripes, alternating colors every row instead of the original pattern's every two rows, making it an even closer match to the original. But what I ended up with worked out just fine.

Chain 11.
Row 1: 2 dc in 4th ch from hook. Dc 3 together. Dc 3 together again. 3 dc in last ch. Chain 3 and turn. (Chain 3 counts as 1st dc of the next row, here & throughout.)
Row 2: 2 dc in last dc of previous row. Dc 3 together. Dc 3 together again. 3 dc in last stitch. Chain 3 and turn.
Repeat Row 2 until this section of color measures at least 13 inches. Change to the other color. Repeat row 2 with second color until that section measures at least 13 inches. Finish off and join ends of mini-scarf with a mattress stitch. Weave in tails.

November 2, 2014


Today, I have a little Yarn Hack for you! 

I came across a free pattern for a pretty crocheted flower. It's worked with one ball of crochet thread, but with two strands of thread held together. 

Since the pattern only requires one ball's worth of thread, I didn't want to buy two, just to be able to work with two strands at once. I've tried working with two strands off of one skein in the past, using both the center-pull end of the yarn and the outside-the-skein end of the yarn, but that always results in a big tangly mess. And with the Aunt Lydia's brand thread I wanted to use for this project, I can never find the center end of the thread anyway, with how they tightly wind the ball around a cardboard core.

But I hacked myself a solution that will result in less wasted yarn and less tangles while working with two strands of one ball of thread!  

First, I wound the entire, new ball of thread into a center-pull ball. 

Then I pulled this towel holder out of the Goodwill pile (a counter-top paper towel holder could work, too), and put the freshly-wound ball on it. Then, working from the outside of the ball, I put the outer tail of thread back on my winder, and re-wound the thread until I had two balls of thread roughly the same size. This ended up being more tedious than I thought it would, as the ball on the towel holder didn't want to unwind smoothly. I had to guide it and unroll it by hand a lot of the time, to prevent it from tightening up on the bar. But it worked ok enough for me to do it again next time I need this trick.

I took the two balls of thread off their perches & called it done! I now have two center-pull balls of thread for my flower project. Because I'll be working from the center of each ball, there won't be any tangling issues. And because I'm leaving the outsides of the two balls connected (I didn't cut the thread you see running from one ball to the other), once I'm done with the project, I can re-wind the unused thread into a single ball again. And a single ball of leftover thread can be used for a wider variety of future projects than two balls half that size.

So there you have it! One ball becomes a pair, and leave them attached for less frustration and more possibilities! 

(Yes, I am a 12-year-old boy at heart. ;) )

October 26, 2014

"Oh, I'll just... Nope."

I recently found a mystery crochet-along that seems like it'll turn out to be a cute project! And wonder of wonders: I even have suitable colors in my yarn stash, just waiting for a purpose! All right! I'm ready to dive into this fun little piece!

....Wait. Nope. Nevermind. Can't. *sigh*

See, I'm missing something vital. The right crochet hooks. Because I lost the vast majority of every hook I owned.

Back in May, the husband & I went on an amazeballs vacation to Mexico to attend my best friend's wedding. It was a great trip, and my very first out of the US! Awesomesauce! And since we had some significant layovers there and back, I packed up a few different crochet projects and my container of hooks, not knowing what I'd want to work on when. I tend to overpack, especially when it comes to crafts.

On our way back home, I learned a very valuable lesson: Different countries have different rules as to what you can take in your carry-on.

The USA's TSA doesn't give a crap about craft supplies. Crochet hooks present zero problems at all, and are allowed in carry-ons on domestic flights, as well as when flying from the US to another country. Mexico's airport security has a different opinion. They didn't care that I had crochet hooks in my bag while coming into their country. So I didn't think anything of it while packing my bag to head home. But, no. Mexico's airport security forbids crochet hooks on flights out. I got my entire crochet tool supply confiscated: hooks, yarn needles, plastic stitch markers, paper clips (poor girl's stitch markers), and even the container itself. *super-mega-epic-grumble* They took the whole container & everything in it.

Could have been worse. I mean, hey, they let me leave without a pat-down or handcuffs! ;) But what a bother to lose so many hooks!

I've been able to manage my craftaholic-ness up to this point. I've been finding projects that use the few hooks I have left (which were safe at home and not in the confiscated container by stroke of luck; I'm SO HAPPY the thread-weight hooks I inheritted from my grandma were safe at home!), and doing non-crochet projects as well.

But now that I'm gearing up to dive into Holiday Gift Crafting, I'm feeling the loss of my tools. I'm not fully armed any more, and the funds are pretty tight. (I maaay have realized only a few months ago that I had a hefty sum still unpaid on a credit card, so I'm holding my financial reins super tight until that debt is gone.) So I'll have to start budgeting in the extra cost of each hook I need for each project I decide on, and hope I get gauge with the listed hook so I don't end up buying two or three hooks per project.

Lesson learned: Be careful when travelling outside the US when you have craft supplies in-tow! But hey, at least I know that from this point forward, I won't have any hooks lying around that I'll never need! Silver linings!

October 25, 2014

Hot Cocoa Gift Jars

As the leaves begin to turn to their best colors, we crafters tend to turn our thoughts toward hand-crafted holiday gifts. As much as I get irked by the retail stores putting out Christmas merchandise before Halloween, I fully admit & accept that when it comes to crafting gifts, you've got to start early. Crafts take time, and the more people you have to gift to, the further in advance you have to get those creative gears churning!

Here's a gift I gave to several people last year: Hot Cocoa Gift Jars. These jars are really quick & easy to put together. If you've got kids, they might get a kick out of helping you with them--especially if rewarded with a cuppa cocoa afterwards. This mix is soooo tasty, too! I'm actually going to make some up tomorrow for me & the husband, even though it's going to be 80 degrees outside. It's that good.

The original instructions called for a cinnamon stick to top off the jars, but I'm a fan of the classic heap of marshmallows. So I opted for those instead, and used wide-mouth jars to make removing the marshmallows from the jar easier for my giftees.

I made up my labels using one of those Avery brand print-at-home packs from Walmart.

Not in the mood for making a half-gallon of hot cocoa at one shot? The recipe works well as single-servings, too. Just use 1/8 of everything in the instructions to make one cup of cocoa.


October 11, 2014

Sewing Tips From the Pros!

My friend, Allie, shared this link on facebook today. LOTS of great tips to make your at-home sewing go smoother, faster, & with a more professional looking end result. Love it!

April 9, 2014

Kitty Afghan

I made this awesome guy on commission. The customer chose the colors to represent her three kitties. I love how it turned out! Took almost 30 hours of work over 9 weeks to complete. Finished dimensions of the throw were 54.5" high x 61.5" wide. Definitely the biggest crochet project I've completed to date!

The kitty pattern is available for free in many places online, with some variations between each website. The border I used on the side was my own variation on one I found here, and the border on the ends were something I just kinda made up at the time. I've been asked for a pattern for this blanket, so since I just cobbled together a bunch of different things, I thought it might be easiest to follow if I just type up how I made this particular blanket. Tweak the recipe to your heart's content!

Use at least two colors, as the contrast is what makes the kitties appear. You can certainly use more than two, if you prefer, though. If using either 2 or 3 colors, you can carry your yarn up the sides of the afghan without having to cut it & weave it in later. The border will hide the messiness. If you're using more than 3 colors, though, you'll need to cut your yarn at the color changes, then hide your ends later.

Note: I wrote up this pattern after the original afghan had been shipped off. If you find any blatant errors as you work it up, please let me know! :)

Kitty Afghan

Worsted weight yarn in 3 colors: (A) Black, (B) Gray, (C) Orange
6mm crochet hook

Puff stitch: * YO. Insert hook into indicated stitch 2 rows below your current row. Pull up a loop to match height of your current row. Repeat from * for total of 4 long loops pulled up. YO & pull through all but last loop on hook (2 loops remain on hook). YO & pull through last 2 loops to finish stitch. (Video)

Shell: (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in ch sp of previous row.

Row 1: With A, fsc 163 (or any multiple of 5, + 3). Turn.

Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc, here & throughout). Skip 2 sts. 2 dc in next st. Ch 1. 2 dc in next st. * Skip 3 sts. 2 dc in next st. Ch 1. 2 dc in next st. Repeat from * across, until 3 fsc remain. Skip 2 sts. Dc in last st. Switch to B. Turn.

Row 3 (Paws & bottom of face): Ch 3. Work puff st in 1st skipped fsc of row 1. * Work shell in next ch 1 sp. Work puff st in 2nd fsc of the next group of skipped fsc. Repeat from * to end of row. Dc in top of turning chain of previous row. Turn.

Row 4 (Top of face & ears): Ch 3. * Work shell in next ch 1 sp. Repeat from * across. Dc in top of turning chain of previous row. Switch to color C. Turn.

Row 5 (Paws & bottom of face): Ch 3. * Work puff st in top of next puff stitch 2 rows below your current row. Work shell in next ch 1 sp. Repeat from * across, ending with a puff stitch. Dc in top of turning chain of previous row. Turn.

Row 6 (Top of face & ears): Repeat row 4. Switch to next color at end of row. Turn.

Repeat rows 5 & 6 for total of 36 kitties high, or until desired height of blanket is reached.

Final Pattern Row: With A, repeat row 5. Turn.

Last Row (To even out the top of the afghan): Ch 4 (counts as 1st dc & ch 1). Skip puff st & next dc. Sc in next dc. 2 sc in ch 1 sp. Sc in next dc. * Skip next dc, puff st, & next dc.  Ch 1. Sc in next dc. 2 sc in ch 1 sp. Sc in next dc. Repeat from * across. Dc in top of turning ch. Do not turn. Do not finish off.

Border Row 1: Ch 1. (Sc, ch 2, sc) in same st. Working along the side of the afghan, work 2 sc in the side of each row. (Sc, ch 2, sc) in 1st fsc. Sc in each fsc across. (Sc, ch 2, sc) in last fsc. Working along the side of the afghan, work 2 sc in the side of each row. (Sc, ch 2, sc) in top 3rd ch of turning chain of Last Row. Sc in each sc & ch sp across. Join to 1st sc with sl st. Switch to B. Do not turn.

Border Row 2: Ch 1. Sc in each sc around afghan, working (sc, ch 2, sc) in each corner. Join to 1st sc with sl st. Sl st until you reach ch 2 sp. Turn.

Border Top: Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). Dc in each st across, ending with 1 dc in last ch 2 sp of top of afghan. FO.

Border Bottom: With B, join to first ch 2 sp of bottom of afghan with a dc. Dc in each st across, ending with 1 dc in last ch 2 sp of bottom of afghan. Turn. Do not finish off.

Border Row 3: Ch 1. Sc in each dc & sc around afghan, working (sc, ch 2, sc) in each corner. Join to 1st sc with sl st.

Border Row 4: Ch 1. Sc in same st. { Skip 2 sc. 6 dc in next st. Skip 2 sc. * Sc in next 2 sts. Skip 2 sc. 6 dc in next st. Skip 2 sc. Repeat from * across. Sc in last sc of this edge of afghan. ** Sc in ch 2 sp. Ch 1. (Sl st, ch 2, hdc) in next sc. Skip 2 sc. Sl st in next sc. Repeat from ** across. Ch 1. } Sc in ch 2 sp. Sc in next sc. Repeat from { to }. Join to 1st sc with sl st. Finish off.

March 2, 2014

Baby Flower Hat

Here's a project I made a long time ago, but never got around to posting.

Before my niece was born, I was the lucky winner of Bonita Pattern's Crocodile Stitch Flower Hat pattern. So I stitched it up & sent it along with my parents when they went down to visit my sis when she had the baby.

This worked up very quickly, and looks pretty cute! The leaves on mine didn't end up as nice & floppy as the pattern photos show, but that's likely just a yarn weight/personal tension thing. 

My newborn niece wasn't a fan, no matter how cute she looked in this hat.

However, my sis was pretty amused by it. We have that sense of humor in common. I've threatened to make her a flower hat in her own size! ;)

The only thing I think I'd change the next time I make this pattern would be to use any color but red, as this hat tended to be mistaken for a strawberry, rather than a flower. But other than that, I was pretty pleased with this pattern!

Ravelry project link:

February 23, 2014

Crocheted Kitchen Set

I created a set of kitchen accessories for my cousin's wedding gift.

Dish Scrubbies

I didn't follow a strict pattern for these, so I apologize for the vague tutorial here. All the tutorials I found online said to use 3" wide strips of tulle fabric to crochet with. The craft stores have rolls of 6" wide tulle in the bridal department. I'm too lazy to bother cutting tulle in half lengthwise, so I used the full 6" width of tulle. I don't recall what size hook I used, but it was probably a 5.5mm or larger. I'm afraid I don't recall exactly the stitches I used, but basically I started with a magic ring, crocheted 6 stitches into the ring (I think I did sc, though it may have been dc), then worked 2 more rounds with even increases in sc. One round of sc with no increases. Then ended with 3 rounds (I think) of even sc decreases, back to 6 sc, & finish off.

Next time I make these, I'll edit exactly how I made them.

I have some dish scrubbies someone got me that were made with the 3" wide strips of tulle, and while they work great, I think these made from 6" wide tulle will last much longer before breaking down.

Dish towel

Original Pattern

Made this one with blue & white cotton yarn, and changed up the striping pattern a bit.

This guy looked REALLY wonky when I finished stitching it up.

Prior to blocking.

So I went into my first attempt at blocking a project! (Yep, I've managed to avoid blocking for years.)

I don't have a blocking board, & my ironing board is smaller than the towel I made, so I laid the work on top of a pile of cushy bath towels on the guest bed, which had conveniently been stripped of sheets at the time. I then soaked another bath towel in water, wrung it out so that it was very wet, but not dripping, & laid it on top of my work.

After only having a wet bath towel laid on top of the work.

Just laying on the wet bath towel did wonders for reshaping the kitchen towel. It was still a touch wobbly on the edges, but much better.

Next step in my blocking was to use a hot iron to press the wet bath towel with the kitchen towel under it, finalizing its reshaping. 

After pressing, removing the wet bath towel, & letting the kitchen towel air-dry the rest of the day.

Et voila! After the blocking procedure, the kitchen towel had darn near perfect shaping! 

I'll probably still avoid blocking whenever I can, but now that I've had success with it, I'm no longer afraid to block when necessary. :)

Roxy Fox Hat

My husband found the Roxy Fox Hat on Etsy, & wanted me to make it for our friend for Christmas. I am thoroughly pleased with how it turned out--and so was our friend!

(Ignore the super-dorky poses. It was late & I was giddy from that I-just-finished-a-craft-project high.)

Now, I usually don’t buy patterns. But I was short on time, & couldn’t afford the trial & error this go round to figure out my own version. So I bought the pattern, and I honestly feel it was worth it! Comes with instructions, both written & in chart form, for both the fuzzy & non-fuzzy versions of the hat, in all sizes from baby to large adult. That’s a lot of patterns all in one! Extremely well written, also. I'm glad I invested in this one!

I didn’t swatch & dived right into making the largest size for an adult. Came out pretty darn big. Frogged & swatched. My guage worked up bigger than the pattern’s, using the same yarn & hook called for, which is a little strange since I tend to work pretty tightly. I loved the hook, though, so I just scaled down & made the Pre-Teen/Adult Small hat. Came out fitting an average-sized adult’s head perfectly.

If you can splurge for a paid pattern, I highly recommend this one!

January 11, 2014

Holiday Hat/Snood & Arm Warmers

My dance troupe hosted our second-annual Holiday Hafla (ie dance party for those who don't speak Bellydancer) this past December. We decided to have fun with our costuming & go all Christmas-y, since we were dancing to Christmas music. It was so much fun!

Looking through my yarn stash again, I saw two partial skeins of the CHUNKIEST yarn I have ever laid eyes on. The local craft store doesn't even have anything this beefy! I tried to work it with my 10mm crochet hook, which was the biggest I had, but the yarn was too big for it. I had to go get a 15mm hook to make it work! I have no idea where this yarn came from or how long I've had it, but seeing as one skein was white & the other was red & green, it was going to be perfect for what I had in mind!

I started with the arm warmers. I knew I'd be limited on yarn, so I wanted to start with the items that needed to match first. I chained enough to be able to stretch over my hand but still not be loose around my arm. The whole thing is worked in dc, and worked as tall as I thought looked right. I carried the yarn up from one row to the next, rather than cutting after each color change. Here's the pattern I used:

Arm Warmers
Ch 8. Join to 1st ch w/ sl st to form a circle.
Row 1: Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). Dc in ea ch around. Join to 3rd ch w/ sl st. (8dc). Switch colors.
Row 2: Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). * Ch 1. Skip 1 dc. Dc in next dc. Repeat from * around. Join to 3rd ch of 1st dc w/ sl st. (4dc). Switch colors.
Row 3: Sl st in next ch sp. Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). * Ch 1. Skip 1 dc. Dc in next dc. Repeat from * around. Join to 3rd ch of 1st dc w/ sl st. (4 dc). Switch colors.
Rows 4-6: Repeat Row 3.
Row 7: Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). Dc in ea ch sp & dc around. Join to 3rd ch of 1st dc with sl st. (8dc). Finish off & hide yarn tails.

I wanted the second piece to be a slouchy hat, but I lost the Yarn Roulette & came up a row or two too short. So it's kind of more of a snood. But whatever, it still worked just fine! :) After the arm warmers were done, I was left with a bit more of the white than the red & green yarn. Some trial & error resulted in the above color configuration looking the best & getting me the most mileage out of the yarn I had remaining. I finished the snood off by sewing three side combs into the edge at center & at each temple to keep it from flying off while dancing. (My hair is extremely slippery & ejects adornments regularly!) I am very happy to say it didn't budge from its place the entire night of the hafla, and I danced three separate times! Pattern:

Slouchy Hat/Snood
Row 1: Start with a magic ring. Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). * Ch 1, dc. Repeat from * 8 times. Join to 3rd ch of 1st dc w/ sl st. (10 dc). Switch colors.
Row 2: Sl st in next ch sp. Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). Ch 1. Dc in same ch sp as previous dc. * (Dc, ch 1, dc) in next ch sp. Repeat from * around. Join to 3rd ch of 1st dc w/ sl st. (20 dc).
Row 3: Sl st in next ch sp. Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). Dc between ea dc of prev row. Join to 3rd ch of 1st dc w/ sl st. (20 dc).
Row 4: Sl st between joining dc & next dc. Ch 3 (counts as 1st dc). Work each stitch of this round between dcs of prev round. Dc between each dc for 5 more sts in this row. (you should have 6 dc on this row now, including your ch 3 at the beginning.) * 1 dc dec. 1 dc. Repeat from * 3 times. 1 dc dec. Join to 3rd ch of 1st dc w/ sl st. (15 sts). Finish off & hide yarn tails. If you wish to make a slouchier hat, add more rows from here.

January 5, 2014

Fine As Findley Cardigan

I started this cardigan back in the Spring of 2013, intending to wear it that summer. Yeeeeaaaahhh..... that didn't happen, lol! Who knew working with laceweight thread would take so long? ;)

Unfortunately for me, the shaping of this garment was all wrong for me & how I like my clothes to fit. It flares out from bust to hem, but I prefer a closer fit at the waist. I didn't realize that was how it'd work out until I was almost done with it. I could have frogged almost the whole thing & reconfigured the stitch counts to change the fit, but I just didn't think it was worth the effort at that point.

Fortunately for my friend, I offered the cardigan to her! She tried it on when it was nearly done & it looks great on her! I just had to add a few more rows to the hem, since she's taller than me. Finished that up, washed & blocked it, and now it's ready to go to its new home!

I'm a little bummed that this didn't work out for me, but very happy that someone I know loves it & will get some great use out of it! I'm a little jaded on the wearables genre & probably won't return to it for a while, though.

Read the play-by-play of this creation over on my Ravelry Project Page.