Friday, October 31, 2014

Frog it again

Cool ribbon stitch, but the uneven edges bug me.  The pattern writer used a stiffer yarn.  Frogging it to start again!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Still Crafting

So grateful for a few minutes of peace and quiet while baby finally naps! Still hoping to blog, but realizing that briefer is better.

Frogging my first scarf attempt.

Loving my new hook. (Clover Amour G). A $9.00 splurge at Len's Mill.

Bargain crafting scissors.  Rainbow mustaches for $1.99!  Snip, snip!

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Version of the Mile-A-Minute Baby Afghan

I finished my first Mile-A-Minute baby blanket and I love the concept.  Not only is it a great way to use up yarn, it's a beautifully polished finished project.  Because of the way its put together, you can combine yarns of different colours, brands and makes still present a very unified project.

I posted an "I'm finished" picture on the Facebook group, Crochet Addict.  Less than 24 hours later, it had 1000 likes and repeated requests for the pattern, so I decided to blog my version of the pattern here below, rather than try to respond to so many people individually.

Apologies for the pictures.  This is what you get when you take pictures on a cloudy/rainy late afternoon with your iphone.

The pattern is below.  Scroll down to find it!  On your way, check out some of the crochet eye candy in the photos.

This is how much white yarn I had left over.  Nothing makes a yarncrafter happier than using leftovers all up!

One of my favourite things about this pattern are the ridges created by joining the strips together.  I placed my strips backsides-together and used single crochets in the back loops only to get this look.  The ridges also keep the blanket nice and square and make it very easy to fold neatly.

A few of the edges look curled up in this photo.  This is a hasty and slightly deceptive shot.  I really should try to take some better pictures.  One of the best things about this blanket was how evenly the ends turned out.  Check out the symmetrical ends in some of the photos above.

Pattern Instructions - My Version:
The inspiration for this pattern is available through Ravelry.  Search for "Mile A Minute Baby Afghan (archived)" if you would like to see that version.  The Ravelry version links to this pattern.  My version is slightly different, so I'm writing it out below.

This blanket was made with sport-weight (#3) yarn.  I used leftovers from my yarn bin so the amounts are a best guess, but here's what I used:
- For the colourful strips: Bernat Satin Sport - 3 colours, less than one skein each (this yarn is discontinued; a good substitute would be Caron Simply Soft Light; it's skeins are much bigger, so you would require significantly less)
- For the white edging: I used a combination of Bernat Satin Sport in "Aran" (discontinued) and Bernat Softee Baby in "Antique White."  I used approximately 1.5 skeins of the Bernat Satin Sport and 1 full skein of Softee Baby, so 2 full skeins of Softee Baby should be enough to do the trick!
- Because it was sport-weight yarn, I chose a G hook
- Keep your yarn needle and scissors handy; this blanket works out best when you work in the ends as you go (i.e., as you finish each strip)

I consider myself to be a medium-speed crocheter.  At my humble pace, each strip took one hour to complete, including working in the ends.  Time to join the strips and add the border was a bit extra.

To Crochet A Strip:

You'll use one of your colour choices make the inside of the strip first.  Then you'll add a white border around it.

Foundation: Ch 7. Join with sl in 1st ch to make a loop.  (Note: A magic ring will not work for this pattern.  Stick with the ch 7 option!)
Row 1: Ch 3, 2 dc in foundation loop.  Ch 3.  3 dc in foundation loop.
Rows 2-49*: Ch 3, turn.  3 dc in ch 3 space from previous row.  Ch 3.  3 more dc in space from previous row.  1 dc in top of ch 3 chain from the row below.
* = make the strip however long you'd like.  I found 50 worked well for sport-weight yarn and a baby blanket.  Different blanket and yarn sizes might work better with more or less rows.  Just make sure all your strips are the same.
Row 50: Ch 3, turn.  3 dc in ch 3 space from previous row.  Ch 5.  3 more dc in space from previous row.  1 dc in top of ch 3 chain from the row below.  Fasten off your yarn.

Now for the strip border:
Note: There is not really a "right side" or "wrong side" to the colour strip, since you've been crocheting back and forth, back and forth.

Join the border yarn with a slip stitch in any of the spaces along the side of the strip created by either the ch 3 or the lone dc.  Ch 3.  2 additional dc in this space.  Work 3 dc in each of the spaces created by the ch 3 or lone dc's along the side of the strip.  

When you get to the loop at either end,  work 12 tc into the loop, then continue up the other side with 3 dc in each space.  Join your last dc to the top of the starting ch3 and fasten off.

Now is the time to work in your ends.  Trust me, it's easier to do it now than when the blanket is all joined together!

Voila!  One strip complete!

It's your choice as to whether you'd like to stockpile all of your strips and join them together at the end, or join them as you go. It makes no difference either way.

Hold two finished strips with the backsides together.  (Look at the white border to determine which is the front and which is the back.)  At this point the strips also have a top and a bottom, thanks to the v-shape created by the colourful middle of each strip.  Make sure the Vs are pointing the same way before you start joining!

(Here is where I may need to add pictures.)

Using your border colour, and starting in the back loops of the 10th tc on the arched ends of the strip, join the 2 strips together with a sl.  Crocheting in the back loops only, work your way down the strip, beginning with the 11th tc, then the 12th tc, then each of the dcs, using sc to join the strips together.  Fasten off once you reach the 3rd tc of the arch at the other end of the strip.  Work in your ends.

To firm up the edges of the blanket, complete a round of sc around the entire blanket.  I used one sc in each dc around.  In order to keep the arched/scalloped edges curvy, I stitched 2sc into most of the tc stitches on the ends of the blanket.  (I'll post a diagram later to show what I mean.)

If you have any questions about the instructions, please leave a comment below and I'll do my best to clear it up for you!  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Classic Baby Blanket - Order yours today!

I had a lot of fun making this project!  First, it was a custom order -- always good to know it's exactly what the recipient wants!  Second, it was fun to make a baby girl blanket in the midst of this baby boy boom we're currently experiencing.

I used a classic pattern to go with this classic colour.  It's called the Candy Stripe Baby Blanket.  (If you follow the link, you'll see why. The pattern maker elected to use a variety of colours.)

Working with one colour and a repeating stitch is very meditative.  I'd happily make another of these if I had a request.  I'm pricing it at $40 for a solid colour and $45 for two colours (either stripes OR a solid colour blanket with another colour for the border).

Rather than post the custom order info on Etsy, I'm simplifying by making it part of my blog.  Click the picture below--or the Custom Orders link in the right-hand menu of this blog--to head to this new blog area.

Stitchcation Completed!

I just submitted a photo of my finished Stitch Cation afghan to the Crochet Crowd.  Here's what the final product looks like:

The colours are crrrazy, but it matches our IKEA couch.

The rules for the stitch-cation were:
-at least 8 colours
-at least 2 of each specified block (minimum of 20 blocks)
-a border of my choice with at least 4 rounds

Notes on the Border:
My border is made up of the following:
1.  1 round of sc in navy blue
2.  2 rounds of sc in back loop only in navy blue
3.  1 round of *cluster (3hdcs), skip one sc space, repeat from * in turquoise
4.  1 round of sc in skipped space and ch1 over cluster stitch in navy blue
5.  reverse direction, and complete final round in 1dc in each sc and sl in each ch 1 space

I learned a few new stitches and combined some colours that I probably would not have put together otherwise!  My favourite square is the brown, light blue and dark blue one.  Which one is your favourite? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Free Ruffly Flower Headband Pattern

This is my 150th post on this blog!  Wow.  Since I started keeping track of all most of my crafty fun in February 2011, it seems that my love of making things has grown.  I'm sure my blog has fed my passion and my passion has fed my blog.  Plus it's totally cool to look back and see what I've learned to do with yarn and other crafty bits in the past few years.

I digress.

A 150th anything calls for a celebration!  So I'm sharing a free (and easy) pattern with you.

Ruffly Flower Baby Headband

You will need:
- a small amount of worsted weight yarn (I used Red Heart Soft)
- a small amount of Red Heart Boutique Sashay yarn
- an H hook
- a nickel-sized button that matches your worsted weight yarn
- a sewing needle and thread that matches your worsted weight yarn

To Make The Headband:
1.  Using your worsted weight yarn, make a row of chain stitches long enough to wrap around the circumference of baby's head.  Then add three extra chains to your row.
2.  Skip the first three chains in your row, and then make one double crochet stitch in each chain stitch across.
3.  Fasten off and work in the ends.
4.  Use the needle and thread to securely stitch your button near one end of the headband.

The gaps between the double crochet stitches work as button holes, so that the headband is completely adjustable.

To Make The Flower Base:
1.  Begin with your worsted weight yarn.  Make a magic ring, chain 2, and work 9 half-double crochet stitches into your loop.  Join with a slip stitch at the top of your first half-double crochet stitch to make a circle.  Pull the magic loop closed.
2.  Round 2: Chain 2. 2 half-double crochets in the joining stitch and in each remaining stitch around.  (18 hdc.)  Join with a slip stitch at the top of your first half-double crochet stitch to complete the round.
3.  Round 3: Chain 2.  2 half-double crochets in the joining stitch, one half-double crochet in the next stitch.  Continue the pattern of 2 hdc, 1 hdc around the circle for a total of 27 hdc.  Join with a slip stitch at the top of your first half-double crochet stitch to complete the round.
4.  Round 4: Chain 1.  2sc in in joining stitch, one sc in each of the next two stitches.  Continue the pattern of 2sc, sc, sc around the circle for a total of 36 sc.  Join with a slip stitch at the top of your first sc stitch to complete the round.  Fasten off your yarn.  Don't work in the ends just yet.  Leave them for attaching the finished flower to the band.

To Make The Ruffly Flower:
Pause here for a minute and check out the helpful video tutorial ("How To Apply Sashay Yarn To Projects") from The Crochet Crowd on working with Sashay yarn.

(Start at 9:41 to get the idea for working in circles and an understanding of why you must start from the outside of the circle.)

1. Affix the sashay yarn to the backside outer edge of your flower base.
2. Working in a spiral, join the sashay yarn with slip stitches to your flower base.  I slip-stitched in every 3rd loop of the sashay mesh to get a nice, poufy flower.
3.  After you have slip stitched into the centre of your flower base, fasten off and affix the yarn to the back side of your flower base.

1.  Use a yarn/darning needle and the loose ends of your flower base to firmly stitch the flower onto the headband.
2.  Use the regular needle and thread to firmly stitch the button to one end of the headband.  (See picture.)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dreamt it, did it! (A "deer" little project.)

It's pretty satisfying: I am getting to the point with crochet where I can imagine something and then work it up.  It rarely works out the first time, but when I finally get it right, all the ripped out stitches don't matter!

Here is a gift from my nephew Mason's shower, earlier this summer.  (I should add that his dad is an avid hunter.)

A deer antler ear flap hat!!!

I made this in sportweight acrylic yarn.  I was going to stuff the antlers, but the crochet was tight enough that they just stood up on their own.

No pattern for this one (yet).  But if I have occasion to make another, I will definitely write down the steps this time. ;)

He loves it!

No such thing as too much ruffles?!?

All the way back in May, I posted a Facebook link to Baby's First Gown from The Crochet Crowd and offered to make it for the first responder.  My darling Kimiko was quickest on the draw and chose the colours and sizes for her darling, Willow Mei.

It took me until summer holidays to get started on this project, but once I did, it was hard to put down!  The pattern calls for RedHeart mini sashay, but we took it to the next level with RedHeart regular Sashay yarn (bigger ruffles and more colour options).

First, you crochet a full dress from the top down.  Then, you add on the ruffles, working from the bottom up in a corkscrew pattern.

Watching this project come together was like watching some kind of science experiment grow...

...and grow...until it overflowed the project bowl!

Here is the finished project.  I didn't track time, but I'm guessing it took me between 12 and 15 hours to put this sweet little dress together.

The best part?  It's soft.  And squishy.  Willow Mei is going to be extra huggable in this thing!

Finishing detail: a sparkly black button on the back!
I will need a bit of a rest from this pattern, before I try making it again, but I am willing to do custom orders on this one.  It requires $25.00-$30.00 of yarn.  Based on the time and technique it took to put this one together, this one comes with a $70.00 price tag.  (And sorry: it's for kids only! It's available in sizes 6 months to 2 years.)

Stay tuned....
...for a freebie pattern to make a matching flower headband!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Getting It Together

Day 1 of organizing my craft space took place mostly in my head.  I started off with a little bit of math, trying to figure out how many more granny squares I needed to complete my patchwork blanket.  My mind was blown when I realized that a blanket of 7x8 squares (56 total) arranged on diagonals would result in exactly 14 squares of each colour.  Math is beautiful, no?

So I started by cranking out the rest of the centres for each granny square.

I've started to keep an eye out for cute enamel bowls at thrift stores, because I think they'll look great in my finished craft room.  Here's my little square-centre salad...

...which I ended up transferring to a larger bowl so that I could include all the components for this project.

See that other big enamel bowl on the table?  That's another project, all assembled and ready to begin.  But see that green and brown striped square at the front?  That's part of my stitch-cation project.  I found that while I was organizing and had to finish it off before I could organize any further.

Ah.  Satisfaction = a finished patchwork square with all the ends worked in.  Now I could get back to work!

Finally, I collected all of my stitch-cation pieces into a suitcase.  (A suitable place for a "stitch-cation" project, don't you think?)

And then, before getting back to the organization work, I took some time to take pictures of my kitty. This is summer vacation.  She is cute.  How could I not?

At this rate, it's going to take me forever to organize my attic craft space, but at least I'm enjoying every moment of it!

Friday, July 18, 2014

So much cool stuff!

I brought a carload of stuff to the thrift store this week.  Then--of course--I had to go inside and check things out.

Remember those grab bags of candy at the corner store when you were a kid?  Well, I found the thrifty fabric equivalent!  A $2.00 bag of mystery fabric--wrapped in no less than 20 feet of packing tape--was just too hard to resist.  It was packed too tightly to peek inside, but I figured I'd take my chances and spend the twoonie.
Packed to survive a nuclear blast.

This may be my best find yet!  It turned out to be...39 quilt patches in vintage fabric!

Get ready, patches!  I have so many plans for you... 
5 cents a patch.  So great!

Here's the rest of the stuff I bought:
Afghan - $4.00; onesie - $1.00; milk jug - $0.50; brand new baby shoes $3.00...and all those loooovely patches.
Now why would I buy an afghan when I can't seem to stop making them? was gorgeous, it was finished, it was $4.00, and I can leave it on my porch without feeling guilty about it.  (It's acrylic, so it's easy to wash and it's not going to grow mold, either.) more thrift shopping for at least a week!  Time to stay home and get this craft room organized so that I can start making beautiful stuff.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Things Are Looking Bright!

I have something awesome that I want everybody to see....


Don't you just love it?  (Can you tell that I do?)  It's like a bag of Skittles popped open...and somehow serendipitously arranged themselves into orderly rows of colour.

This is a simple granny stripe.  If you want to know more about what's involved with the pattern, you should check out Attic 24, my go-to web space for all things granny.

It takes 15 minutes to make a stripe.  Multiply that times 27 rows and you've got 405 minutes.  Divide that by 60 and you'll know that I've sunk 6.75 hours into this blanket already.   Oh, and I started it yesterday.  (I should mention that I learned I could watch full episodes from HGTV online yesterday, too. That may have had something to do with it.)

It's not quite finished yet.  There's the whole deal of working in ends.  (The yucky part.)  And I'm going to put a border on it.  I still have lots of the berry colour left, so the border will be mostly in that shade.

It just feels so good.  It's crocheted in mercerized cotton so it has a nice weight to it and it's cool and silky to the touch.

Some baby girl needs this blanket.  And it's going to be for sale.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Loving The Little Things

This weekend, we took a little road trip to Kingston and Ottawa. It truly was a whirlwind adventure--less than 24 hours in each city--but so much fun. Just the kind of mini-cation I needed to make summer vacation feel a little more real.

The theme of the weekend seemed to be loving the little things. Here's a quick photo tour to show you what I mean:

Paint test strips on the 401.

Reassurance that I won't catch bubonic plague from the hotel room remote.

Great book (I Capture The Castle) and book title (Lady With a Spear!? what?) on the hotel room shelf.

Accidental detour off the beaten path.

Awesome sink backsplash at The Sunflower Cafe in Perth.  (I don't normally take photos in public bathrooms, but...)

Cute quotes on bath products in our Ottawa hotel room.

Proximity of the watermelon display to the "Expectant Mother" sign.  (Some things just go together!)

A no smoking the operating the Diefenbunker.  (Smoking everywhere else was okay until the 1980s.  Seriously!  Cigarettes in an underground bunker!  What were people thinking?)

THE MOST AMAZING tuna melt with tons of crunchy veggies at Alice's Village Café in Carp, ON.

Now, on the crafty theme of little things...I'm beginning to realize how much I love granny squares. In 20 minutes, you can have a little piece complete.  (Nevermind that I will need 56 of these little squares to make a blanket.)  It's very satisfying...and not so suffocating in the summer heat as a full-on blanket project.

They're also a great way to use up scraps.  The centre of all of these squares is made from small bits leftover from another project that I haven't quite finished yet.

Here are some finished granny squares.  Aren't they sweet?

Working in ends is definitely not my favourite part.  There are definitely a lot of ends to work in on scrappy projects like this one!

In the battle of "finished" versus "almost finished" squares, it appears that "almost finished" is winning.

Of course, I have several projects in the queue that I should be working on first.  I have some projects I have promised to make for people...but sometimes some beautiful yarn just calls out and says, "Crochet me first!"

Today being a lazy, rainy day, I'm sure there's some more crocheting in the plans...

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