Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 32: Make a Blanket or Toy For Your Furry Friends

I had great hopes for this week's Challenge having thought about what I was going to do well over a week ago. I've been working on my project and I even had a blog post title picked out: Waffles and Sunday Drives.

Well, the best laid plans . . .

So, here's what I have so far, a pet blanket that is taking me FOREVER to finish. Believe it or not, this is row 71!



It is crocheted with the waffle stitch (here's where the waffle part of my original blog title would have come in) and it's a very small stitch.  For some reason, I kept on with it despite the wonkiness and its out of shape unevenness. It's pretty much a hot mess.  But, since I've gotten this far, I do plan on finishing it. I like to use blankets like these in the car when we are driving (here's the Sunday drive reference for the blog title, but I'm not sure why, we really don't take Sunday drives, maybe it's an idyllic reference?) when I have my Yorkie on my lap. Her feet are very pokey otherwise and this way she can curl up and relax. The waffle stitch is comparable to what you see in thermal wear, small pocket shaped stitches that keep the heat in. It's pretty thick too, like a pad. When I finish it, I plan on putting a simple border around it. My hope is that somehow a border will make it look more even.

Here's my girl I'm making it for:



Her name is Daphne (a.k.a. The Bean):


Here's a picture of my "girls", Sally, Daphne and Abby:


This week for me has really been a challenge, but one I hope to finish soon. I will post a picture of the blanket when I finish it.



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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Week 31: It’s Adopt a Shelter Dog Month - Crochet a Toy or Blanket For Your Local Shelter

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and in recognition of that, this week’s Challenge is to make a blanket or toy to give to your local animal shelter. 

When I first started crocheting, making pet blankets was a great way to practice my stitches and it started me on the path to becoming a designer. They are terrific projects for beginner crocheters and the blankets can be made by working rows or by working in rounds. I still have those blankets I made years ago, they wear really well and have been laundered many, many, times. 

Contact your local shelter first to make sure they will accept your blanket or toy donation. You can also check out the Snuggles Project here. This website is a great resource for finding shelters, and they also have a free pattern library. The Snuggles Project has been around for years, and I am happy to see they are still up and running. 

For other ways to help your local shelter, check out the list at PetFinder.com. There are many great suggestions, such as helping to promote special events for Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.

One of my first self published patterns is a swirly cat toy. Pictured below is my most adorable cat B.C., who sadly, is no longer with us. I love to look at this picture of him though, he was quite the character - a fierce warrior, and yet a snuggly cuddle bear. He was the first pet we adopted when we moved into our new home. He got a new home too, and we got the best cat - ever!











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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week 29: Celebrate Fall With Colors or Leaves

It’s hard to believe that Fall is almost upon us. It starts September 23rd, and in celebration, this week’s Challenge is to crochet some fall leaves, or to create a project using fall colors. This is an easy challenge for me, because they are my favorite colors.

I am lucky to have a replica of my maternal grandfather’s family tree hanging in my living room and I’ve used it for my color scheme.



I also have a round braided rug that has the same colors in it. I’ve started a new 12 point star afghan that will highlight these colors. I’ve been playing around with the stripe pattern, as well as what yarns and colors I’m going to use. I’m still kind of undecided, so we’ll see how it goes.




I’ve made several of these star blankets, from baby size to huge afghans, and they are a blast to make! Several women in my crochet group have made them, and we all agree that the pattern looks difficult, but is quite easy to do. It’s a great time of year to start a large project like this, and as the days grow colder, it’s nice to have it on my lap while working on it.

How do you plan to celebrate Fall?





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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Week 26: Organize Your Project Bag and Crochet Kit

These days I tend to travel with a much lighter project bag. A friend of mine gave me the lovely tote bag you see pictured. She made it herself out of a chicken feed bag and I love it immensely! It's very roomy and will even hold an afghan. I have a smaller tote that I carry inside the bag that is meant to be used to hold wine bottles, but it makes a great yarn organizer instead! It holds up to six skeins of yarn and I can tuck my kit and hook in them also. The organizer also makes it a fast job to change out my tote bag too. Lately I've been busy crocheting mittens, texting mittens and fingerless gloves to sell in my other Etsy shop, RedBerry4You, this holiday season.




The pink kit pictured is The Knit Kit that I purchased online. I can't remember where I bought it, but it was on sale at the time. It is a bit pricey, but I find myself relying on it so much that if I ever lost it I would replace it right away. It has a row counter, tape measure, yarn cutter, scissors, and a small compartment that holds my yarn needles, yarn threader and stitch markers. It also has a crochet hook that knitters use to pick up dropped stitches, but I consider it back up, just in case ;) Oh yeah, and it's pink!

The most important part of my project bag and kit are that they keep me organized and always ready to get to stitching. How do you organize your projects?



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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Week 23: Make Some Crochet Art!



My inspiration for the Challenge this week is from the word art pictured above. I made this a few years ago and it hangs above my desk where I see it every day. The colors are bright and happy and it's a reminder (not that I really need one!) of why I love crochet so much.

For this week I made another word art creation and used one of my crochet pattern descriptions for the text:


I really enjoy this medium because I can be artistic without having to draw, or paint, and I love words and typography, and of course, color. To try it yourself, check out wordle.net.

I hope this inspires you to create some crochet art that you will enjoy, whether it's created from wordle or not. What inspires you?





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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Week 21: What is Your Favorite Crochet Hook and Why?

This week's challenge is to talk about my favorite crochet hook. That's pretty simple really, I prefer any hook that I happen to have in my hand at the moment! But seriously, I do prefer wood hooks. They are warm in my hand and my "regulars" have a nice patina on them from being used so often. I have a set of birch Brittany hooks that are my "go to" set, and which I use when designing. It's easy for me to keep a consistent tension and gauge with these. I only have a few that are walnut wood, they no longer make them and they have become quite collectible, but you can easily find birch hooks for sale.


A friend of mine gave me this lovely wood hook with an adorable hen on top. It is such a fun hook!

I also have a small collection growing. These hooks have polymer clay handles. The flower patterns are very intricate and colorful. I can only imagine that it took many, many, hours just to create the flowers, and yet, they were not very expensive. I found them on Etsy.


The lovely hook below is made of abalone. It is quite a different feel to use because of its curved handle. These can be found on the Lacis website.

The hook below was also a gift. It is made of stainless steel and would be used for thread crochet. It's not very comfortable to hold because of the decoration, but it is unique, which is what I love about it.
  

I hope you've enjoyed taking a peek at my hook collection. What is your favorite hook? I'm always interested to know what other crocheters prefer.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week 20: It's Christmas in July!




This week's challenge makes me feel like I have a chance to get ahead of my holiday crochet projects. One tradition I have is that I like to make a Christmasy potholder to give as gifts to family members. Last year I considered doing something else, but at Thanksgiving dinner my sister-in-laws were talking about them, wondering what the potholder would be. Well, that pleasantly surprised me, so I got busy and found a pretty snowflake potholder. Unfortunately, I didn't give myself enough time, so at the last minute I was crocheting like a mad woman, driving myself nuts.

This year I'm hoping July is early enough! I considered designing my own pattern, but then I found this from the Country Meadow Settings leaflet by The Needlecraft Shop.




I think I'm going to make the Cardinal. It's Christmas colors but not too Christmasy, but a pretty winter theme. I've already made the front piece of one and the cardinal for it, but my bird is too big, so I'll have to adjust my hook sizes. I'll post pics when I have one finished.

Merry Christmas in July!




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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Healing and Health Benefits of Crochet?


Lydia Crocheting In the Garden at Marly
Mary Cassatt, 1880


I've always joked that crocheting helps to keep me sane. But what if there are health benefits to crochet? I've had students in my beginning classes tell me that their doctor suggested crochet as a way to help with hand pain. I also know from personal experience that it is a stress reliever. Beyond that I hadn't thought much about it at all.

Kathryn Vercillo, Crochet Concupiscence, however, has thought about it a lot. She's also written about it in her book Crochet Saved My Life. Currently, she is taking a survey on her blog and is asking for more responses. I've taken it myself, and I'm very interested to learn what the results conclude. I hope you'll take a few minutes to share have your experiences. Has crochet had health benefits for you?

Survey:

About:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Week 18: Crochet in Movies or TV

Week 18: Name a movie or TV show in which someone is crocheting, or that has a crocheted item in it.


Back in October of 2012 I was watching the TV show Hollywood Treasures. I honestly can't say too much about it except that one of the cast, Tracy McCall was wearing a really fun crocheted hat. I liked it so much that I paused the show long enough to sketch out the hat in my crochet notebook. I think about it sometimes, and may even work one up one of these days.



Another crocheted item that has caught my eye is from another TV show, but it's one that I haven't watched myself. I was reading the Ravelry forums and came across this thread. It is about the show Breaking Amish which has a crocheted afghan in it. It 's a very distinctive pattern and one that I am considering starting this fall. It just happened that Love of Crochet magazine mailed me an offer and they included 2 free patterns, one of which is Rippling Ridges. It's a bit different, but has the same stitch pattern in a shallower chevron. So, I now have a pattern, I'll just need to choose my colors. There are some fabulous colorway examples of this afghan on Pinterest, and below is a photo by Angelala242.

Do you have any crocheted TV or movie props you'd like to make?





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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Week 17: Celebrate the First Day Of Summer

Week 17: Celebrate the first day of summer (June 21, 2014) by crocheting a beach or summer fun project.

When I think of summer, I think of flip flops. There's nothing like the "twack, twack", sound and the effortlessness of getting them on and off. Tuck a pair into a beach bag with a swimsuit and towel and you're good to go. I've seen flip flop sock patterns but I decided to make my own. They are a fun and colorful companion for my favorite flip flops and feel great on my feet.





Instead of creating a pattern, I will share a basic tutorial so you can make a pair for yourself. See the end of the tutorial for special stitch instructions and a list of abbreviations. I used EZC Nautika yarn (85% microfiber acrylic/15% nylon) in turquoise for the main color. The orange and yellow are Frog Tree Pediboo Sock Yarn. I used a size D (3.25 mm) crochet hook, but use whichever size is necessary for your sock yarn.

Measure the circumference of the width of your foot, then subtract 1 inch to allow for stretching. This is length you will make your foundation double crochet (dc) row. Begin the sock at the toe edge.

Foundation dc row: With main color yarn, ch 3, and yarn over (yo). Insert your hook into the 3rd ch from your hook and pull up a loop. [Pay attention to this 1st loop, you may wish to mark it because you will be working the next stitch into it.] Yo, and draw through 2 loops, twice, to complete the dc stitch. Dc into the 1st loop of the previous stitch to create the next dc stitch. Work in this manner, making as many stitches as necessary until the unstretched row measures the length you need. Join with a sl st into the beg dc, taking care to not twist the row.

Esc rounds: Ch 1 and work extended single crochet (esc) sts in each st around. Do not join at the end of each round,. Work continuously in a spiral until the sock measures 2 1/2 inches, then join with a sl st. Fasten off main color yarn.

Attach color B (orange in my case) with a sl st in any esc and ch 3. Dc in the next esc and in each esc around. Join in beg dc and fasten off color B.

Attach color C (I used yellow) with a sl around the post of any dc of the previous round. Ch 3, work a front post dc around each dc of the previous round. Fasten off color C.

Finishing: Using the beg length of yarn, sew the bottom of the foundation row closed . Place the socks on your feet, with the foundation row closest to your toes, to determine where you would like the toe strap to be. To make the toe strap: use main color yarn and attach with a sl st to the foundation row. Ch 20, skip 6 chs (for buttonhole) and sl st in the remaining 14 chs. [My buttons are 3/4 inch, but you may need to adjust the number of chains depending on your yarn and button size.] Sl st in the beg esc st and fasten off.

Sew buttons to the tops of your socks that align with the toe loops. Fasten off and weave in all ends.

Enjoy your flip flop socks!

Additional information:
Special stitch:
Extended single crochet (esc): insert hook into the st and pull up a loop. Yo, and draw through 1 loop on hook. You will have 2 loops on your hook. Yo, draw through 2 loops to complete the esc stitch.

Abbreviations:
beg - beginning, ch(s) - chains, dc - double crochet, esc - extended single crochet, sl st - slip stitch, st(s) - stitch(es)




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