Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Wedding Afghan

I think the wait is over.  Here are some pictures of the finished wedding afghan I made for Matt and Emily who were married on December 17.  I'm really liking solid-coloured items lately.  This one looked so good draped over our living room chair that it was hard to wrap it up!  Speaking of wrapping it up, I'm hoping to post a tutorial on how I wrap up blankets, since I've had several people ask me how to do it.  Stay tuned!

The yarn for this project is Red Heart Soft in "Light Grey Heather."  It took about 12 balls to complete the project, but I've got all kinds of little bits left over and some ideas of how to use them.  (Stay tuned for those, too!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Progress Report

This just in: cute baby fits in cute hat.  This is the beanie I blogged about earlier.  (But seriously, how cute is he?)  Apparently he doesn't have a name yet...but he does have a hat--with room to grow in it--so I'd say he's doing just fine. ;)  Congrats again, Lynne and Josh (and big sister Ivy)!
This is, of course, motivation to make more cute little things.  I just love it when others love the stuff I make for them!

Now....I'm making progress on the scarves. :)  There weren't as many hours of daylight in our road trip as I had planned (darn you, Winter Solstice!), but I did manage to finish one scarf and get halfway done another.

I'm looking forward to a little couch time tonight to work on the scarf.  We're watching the final season of Big Love and it's SO GOOD that we just might finish it off tonight. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Keeping Secrets

How do you keep a secret from your best friend?  I've been working hard to make hubby a scarf for Christmas, trying to crochet in secret.  The problem is that I love spending my free time with him, so I'm not getting very far.

While I love the idea of surprise gifts, I have to admit that sometimes it's near impossible.  So last night, I officially caved and asked if I could scrap the secret and just make him a scarf.  His response? "Sure.  I'm not really big on surprises anyway."

Two Christmases ago, I made him a really funky scarf from a soy-wool solid.  This WAS a secret, but it was a little easier to keep, since we weren't married at the time!  I spent several nights out for coffee with friends trying to crank it out in time for December 25.  (I think I may have even crocheted at the movies, but I made the deadline!) High end yarn like that looks good, but apparently it's a bit itchy.  The scarf was black to match his grey winter dress coat.

Here's the scarf from 2009, ridiculously wrapped in tinsel, with a copy of A Tale of Two Cities wedged inside.  Those blue foil stars ended up everywhere around his apartment for months afterwards!
Now he has a new black jacket and he needs something with a bit more colour to it....and something that itches a little less.  So, I'm going back to the basics...and the economy put together something that's mostly manly and a little bit funky.  I'm leaning towards the subway scarf on Vicki Howell's blog, but I'm also toying with the idea of something tweed-y or houndstooth-y.

Yep, this is as far as I got in secret.
Speaking of secrets, I've got another ball of yarn waiting in the wings that's set to become a gift scarf for my Secret Santa draw at school next week.  We're road-tripping to a wedding this weekend, so I should have time to finish both scarves.
A multicolour ball of Homespun that should match any jacket.

Two more secrets to round out this post.  One is about the gift for the afore-mentioned wedding.  It's about 30 stitches and a few woven-in ends away from completion.  Of course, it's a surprise, but here's a close-up sneak peak:

The other gift is finally ready for its full reveal.  My Northern Friends had baby #2 yesterday and were waiting to open the gift I mailed up to them.  Here's the blanket and beanie set I made for the little guy.  (Red Heart soft is a great yarn for baby projects in less-than-traditional colours.)
Star stitches up close.

The blanket and beanie combo.

Crab stitch edging

Manly set.
The pattern for the beanie is available in an earlier post on my blog.  Save for the crab-stitched edging, the blanket is the star-stitched baby blanket pattern I found on ravelry.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Scarves Make Great Gifts

They do!  Necks, unlike heads, hands, feet and almost everything are pretty close to one-size-fits-all.  Wear them inside, wear them outside....and can you ever really have too many?

Here's a simple scarf with a twist: join the beginning to the end and turn it into a cowl.  A lacy pattern works up quickly and has a nice drape to it.  Find the pattern for the scarf on Redheart yarn's site.  (For once, I actually used the yarn recommended for a pattern, Redheart "Shimmer" has a nice bit of sparkle.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crafter's Christmas Wish List

'Tis the season!  Here are 10 crafty items I have my eye on....

1.  A nostepinne.  A classic, no frills, no fuss yarnwinder.  I like this purple one I found on etsy, made by ScottsMountainCrafts.

2.  A crochet stitch dictionary/encyclopedia.  This one has been in my amazon cart for a few months now:

3.  Clear storage totes to help organize my crafting space.  (Small ones for individual projects would be so very great!)
4.  An ergonomic crochet hook or two (just to give them a try).
5.  A renewed subscription to Crochet Today.

6.  Thread.  Yeah, it's kinda lame, but my stock is limited and it's nice to have on hand when the sewing mood strikes.

7.  A Cricut machine.  Oh, the fun I could have with one of these!
8.  And of course, to go with the Cricut, a big fat pile of cardstock in all the colours of the rainbow.  (Drooling, now.  Just a bit.)
9.  Ink pads.  Big ones.  In black and purple and a charcoal grey.

10.  Gift cards!  Because half the fun is in the shopping. ;)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen...My Crochet Protegé!

I actually dreamt about my blog the other night.  Is that the sign of a growing fascination or what?  I dreamt that I found this (admittedly ugly) quilt that I had made and I was beside myself with confusion over why I hadn't already posted photos of this FO in in cyberspace.

With Christmas on the way, it has been a prolific yarncrafting month, for sure.  I have finished a few projects recently, of which I can provide some sneak peaks, but first off, let me showcase the work of my wonderful friend, Jenny who became a student of crochet this very weekend. (Yay, Jenny!)
Here is Jenny's work, as of last night.  (The cat sure loved it!  Yes, that's her husband sharpening his crochet skills in the background.)
And here is Jenny's work before she left today.  What a fast learner!
Jenny is making a hat to fit a one-year-old.  We picked out a bulky yarn so that the pattern works up quicker and her choice of variegated yarn makes a simple project look a little bit more sophisticated.  (The yarn is Loops & Threads Charisma in "Northern Lights.")

Someone once told me that your first crocheted object should be something you give away and I like the idea of starting small, with something that doesn't require a lot of materials or a complicated set of skills.  I opted to use the First Fall crochet hat from Lion Brand as a general guideline.  This is a simple pattern that's easy to adapt for different sized heads and only involves crocheting a rectangle.

Jenny was an excellent first student, but we faced two dilemmas:
1.  We have a long-distance friendship and only get to see each other on a few weekends per year.
2.  I'm a leftie.  I crochet everything backwards!

Both problems were solved with the help of YouTube.  We found some great little two-minute video clips to watch, and Jenny can refer back to these when she needs a refresher.
I am so pleased to have helped someone else to start a hobby I love.  (And who knows?  Maybe I'll have her blogging about it soon, too. ;)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baby Boy Stripey Beanie

Here's a sneak peak of part of a baby gift I'll be mailing off tomorrow.  I turned the leftover scraps into a little boy beanie.  As for sizing, I'm hoping it's newborn-sized!

The yarn is Red Heart Soft in Chocolate and Teal.
I used an H hook throughout.

Row 1: Magic ring,ch 2. 12 hdc in ring. Pull tight. Join ring with sl.

Row 2: Ch 2, 2 hdc in each stitch around. Join with sl to 1st hdc.

Row 3: Ch 2, *2 dc in 1st stitch, 1dc in next stitch. Repeat from * around. Join with sl to 1st dc.

Row 4: Ch 2, *2dc in 1st stitch, 1 dc in next 2 stitches. Repeat from * around. Join with sl to 1st dc.

Row 5: Ch 2, 1 dc in each stitch around. Join with sl to 1st dc. Drop main co our, but do not fasten off.

Row 6: Join 2nd colour. Ch 2. 2 dc in each stitch around. Join with sl to 1st dc. Drop second colour, but do not fasten off.

Rows 7 and 9: Take up main colur. Repeat row 5.

Rows 8 and 10: Take up 2nd colour. Repeat row 6. At the end of row 10, fasten off second colour.

Row 11: Take up main colour. Ch 1. Sc in each dc around. Join with sl stitch to 1st sc and fasten off. weave in all ends.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bear-y Sweet Hat

I am awarding myself the luxury of blogging before work, with the hopes that it will help wake me up this morning.  The coffee is doing its part as well.  This soft and lofty bear hat is the result of reading several hat patterns on the internet, trying a few and then coming up with my own.

To give credit where it's due, I used the instructions for Alli Craft's fuzzy bear hat for the idea of how to make the ears and the mini flower is a very simple pattern from Attic 24.

Yarn and Hooks Used:
-Bernat "Harmony" & "I" hook to make the hat
-a scrap of Loops & Threads "Impeccable" and an "H" hook to make the flower
-you'll also need a safety pin and a yarn needle to work in the ends

To Make the Hat:

1: make a "magic ring," ch 1, 12 hdc in ring and pull it tight.  Join with sl to the first hdc
2: ch 2, hdc in same stich as sl.  2 hdc in each remaining stitch around.  Join with sl to top of ch 2.
3: ch 2, hdc in same stich as sl.  *2 hdc in next stitch, 1 hdc in next stitch,* repeat pattern around the circle and join with sl in top of ch 2
4: ch 2, 1 hdc in each stitch around.  Join with sl.
Rows 5 - 9 are a repeat of row 4.

Fasten off yarn and weave in ends.  (Tip: When using any kind of bulky yarn, I find it easier to use a safety pin as a yarn needle, since the eye of my yarn needle is just too small to thread thicker yarns.  I'll try to add a picture soon to show what I mean.)

To Make the Ears:  (You'll need two, of course!)
(Thank you to Alli of Alli Crafts for your clear instructions on how to make bear ears!  I think big ears look cute on babies, so I made big ears for the hat, too.  If you're a fan of smaller ears, follow the steps on her blog to make a slightly smaller pair.)
1.  Make a "magic ring" and work 6 sc.  Hold the stitches and pull so it makes a half-circle of stitches instead of a regular full circle.
2.  ch 1, Turn. Work 2 sc in each sc from previous row.
3.  ch 1, Turn.  Work *2sc in 1st stitch, 1sc in next stich* (repeat this pattern across the row)
Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing the ear to the hat.

Sew the ears to the hat, using the tails from fastening off.  (Again, I threaded the yarn on to a safety pin.)

Make a flower, following the instructions at Attic 24.  FYI, the instructions at this site use British terms, which vary from American terms.  (Basically, it's just 10 sc in a magic ring, followed by a round of *dc+hdc in next stitch, sl in next stich* to create a 5-petal flower.)  When you fasten off, there's no need to weave in the ends.  Use the tail to sew the flower to the bear hat.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christmas is coming...

I had my first Starbucks Christmas Blend today.  There are officially no other big holidays between now and December 24, so the lead-up is now in full swing.  Christmas crafts are starting for me, too.  My attempt to finish the 2nd Christmas stocking did not go as smoothly as planned.  Although I used the same type of yarn and the exact same hook, the green stuff did not work up as firmly and the result was a much looser, lumpier, ugly thing.  I'll have to pick up another ball and try again; perhaps I'll break with tradition and go for purple this time....

We got some shopping in this weekend, although not really of the holiday variety.  I think it was just to build stamina for the hard core Christmas shopping to come.  There is a really cool store in Shakespeare called That Perfect Piece where I found these two vintage tins.  I'm going to put them in the kitchen and use them to store baking things that only come out on special occasions, like sprinkles, chocolate chips and all that fun stuff.  (I just love the cows one.)

We also hit up two bazaars this weekend.  I'm kind of in love with bazaars at the moment and I'm dreaming of setting up a table for at least one craft sale next year.  We found some really neat stuff, like these hot/cold bean bags.  The brightly-coloured one is a neck roll in a long tube.  Both have soft flannel covers that slip off for washing (smart idea).
We also bought some really cool hand-stitched cards, made by a local crafter, Tammy Merkus   I totally want to try this type of crafting someday.

I also finished a baby blanket this weekend and I'm looking forward to blogging it, but the recipient gets to see it first. ;-)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Hallowe'en!

There's a corpse hanging from a tree a few doors down from us.  Across the street from the corpse, a witch is digging into a treasure box of bits and pieces of children.  Creative, yes, but I prefer my decorations to be a bit cuter.  Excited about our first trick-or-treaters at our new house, here's what 30 minutes of hasty decorating will get you:

...pumpkin lights strung from the hanging planter chain....

...a banner strung up the porch railing...

(...made of foam craft cut-outs from the dollar store strung on to ribbon...)

...a worried little jack-o-lantern carved out of a runty, battered, picked-over pumpkin...

...and a tossed candy salad at the front door waiting for our costumed visitors.
Here come our first trick-or-treaters!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Socks and box.

Forget Hallowe'en crafts,
they're just not my thing.
Let's move on to Christmas,
with a festive stocking.

Finally!  A type of sock that I can ENJOY crocheting!  It doesn't have to fit anyone and I'm not required to make another one that could pass as being somewhat symmetrical.  I fa la la la love it.  I used a pattern I found on and the recommended Homespun yarn.  The only real modification I made was to round out the toe with a few extra sc2togs than the pattern specified.

This is hubby's stocking.  Mine is still just a ball of green yarn waiting to meet its destiny.

In other news,  I attended a bridal shower today for a soon-to-be cousin.  The gift didn't involve any crafting, but I managed to have some fun with the wrapping paper.  Take a peek:

This was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, so I can't take full credit.  We created a wordsearch using a free web tool.  We made a puzzle based on key words about the Happy Couple (names, places, dates, adjectives).  I wrapped the box in Kraft Paper and stuck on the crossword using double sided tape.  The hearts were punched out of some fun paper I found in the basement and the turquoise ribbon was also secured with double-sided tape.

Inspired by the gift-wrap fun, we even stopped at IKEA on the way home from the shower and I grabbed a few rolls of lovely Christmas wrapping paper.  Grey with snowflakes and tiny white polka dots.  Lovely.  Bring on the holidays!

Monday, October 10, 2011

His&Hers Art (No yarn was harmed in the making of this craft.)

This is by far the quickest craft I have made in a while.  We got a new duvet cover which inspired the following his and hers framed set: king and queen chess pieces.  One sits on my night stand, and one on his.  Here they are against the duvet:

These are simply free clip-art printed onto ivory card stock and slipped into 4x6 frames from the dollar store.

$2.00 for the frames
$0.02 for the paper (seriously--precut at the dollar store!)
$? for the ink
Under $2.50 total.

While I type, hubby is busy working on the Monday Makeover.  I can hear the brush strokes!  Here is a preview:
We purchased the paint in the spring with good intentions, so it has been sitting for a good, long while.  This sunny, warm Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect weather for painting, but it definitely needed a good stir after all that waiting...

(He stirred it 500 times, to be precise.  I love that he counted and I love that he's game for painting things purple!)

Looking forward to showing off the finished project.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blanket Donation (...the making of...)

Remember the post about my frustration with working in ends?  Well, the frustration is over...and the blanket is complete!  This undeniably pink baby blanket will be donated to the annual Breast Cancer Fundraiser Luncheon on November 10 in Drayton.

Now, here's the play-by-play of how a blanket like this gets put together:

1. I followed the Double Diamond Blanket pattern on the Bernat website.  I used Patons' Bamboo Baby yarn and a size H hook. Each square is worked individually...

2. It takes 25 squares to make the blanket: 13 in the main colour, 8 in a second colour, and 4 in another colour.  What I should have done was work those ugly tails in at this point so I didn't have to do them all later.

3.  The squares are then sewn together using a darning needle and a whip stitch.

4.  After I added a border of two rows of white sc (AND worked in all the ends!), I soaked the blanket in a bowl of water (with a very small amount of detergent) for a few hours.

5.  I forgot to take a picture of the blanket before it went in the water, but you can see from this photo that even the wet blanket needed more than just a flat spot to dry.  (The problem with patchwork is  that it's bound to be lumpy.  But there is a solution...)
 6.  ....pins!  I  started at the centre and pinned the corners of each square into a foam mat to help give it some shape.  (Looks like tiny hydro poles in magical pink farmland, doesn't it?)

7.  About 3 days later, the blanket was finally dry.  I removed the pins and was pleased to see it was looking much more square...with no ripples in sight.

I'm very pleased with the finished product and honoured to have it featured in the Breast Cancer fundraiser.  (Who knows?  Maybe someone I know will win it...)

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