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  • Halloween Tote: Reflective® Finish

    My last blog entry told you about my trials and tribulations while learning how to crochet in the round. I shared with you my swatches and what I learned from each example.  I was very anxious to get started using the yarn specific for the project, Halloween Tote.  The project is one from Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions.

    All projects in Light-Reflecting Fashions (Leisure Arts' #75526) use Red Heart® Reflective® yarn. All projects in Light-Reflecting Fashions (Leisure Arts' #75526) use Red Heart® Reflective® yarn.

    All the projects in this leaflet use Red Heart® Reflective® yarn.  October 31st is fast approaching so let me make one more review of my project instructions and off I go to get started!

    Having crocheted multiple swatches earlier, familiarized me to the pattern instructions, as well as setting my expectations of working with multiple strands of yarn. Not that some unexpected twists and turns couldn't happen, but I thought I was prepared. Oops; a snag!

    I'm so excited to start the bottom of the tote with Red Heart® Reflective® yarn. Uh-oh; there are two frayed, snagged areas so I'll be careful! I'm so excited to start the bottom of the tote with Red Heart® Reflective® yarn. Uh-oh; there are two frayed, snagged areas so I'll be careful!

    Both of these snagged areas looked worse than they were! I could easily tuck any loose fibers in between all four strands of yarn. I finished the bottom and was pleased that I did not have large holes in the composition of each stitch.

    The range of crochet hook sizes for the Halloween Tote project. I chose the middle hook marked Size P, 11.5 mm. The range of crochet hook sizes for the Halloween Tote project. I chose the middle hook marked Size P [11.5 mm].

    I chose to work with the middle hook as pictured above. The size stamped on it says Size P [11.5 mm]. This is smaller than the millimeter hook range as listed in the book's project instructions (SizeP/Q [15 mm]) but I was pleased with the results and the hook was comfortable to hold.

    As I approached Round 11 I took a closer look at my rounds and was pleased, except...except for the joining stitches! I couldn't understand why each stitch looked so loose on several rounds. Then I counted my most recent round and had one too many stitches! OUCH! I was very frustrated because I thought I marked the proper first single crochet stitch and managed the tension successfully while holding four strands. Quite the contrary!

    I did some research about the joining of rounds and what pitfalls crocheters experience. The reply by Karen of Colour in a Simple Life to one of her reader's problems addressed this issue. Karen showed a marked photograph, as well as a written explanation, which solved my dilemma; read it here in the blog entry, Colour in the Winter Blues from 2013.  Thank you, Karen!

    I do not have a picture of the ugliness of the five rounds before I ripped them out. But I was relieved to know that there was a solution -- and it really worked. I'll show you several pictures of the corrected rounds with their joining stitches looking neat and blending in with the other single crochet stitches quite nicely.

    The end of this round; now I clearly see my first single crochet marked with a stitch marker. The end of this round; now I clearly see my first single crochet marked with a stitch marker.
    The joining stitches for each round now look much tighter and blend more easier with the other stitches than my first try. The joining stitches for each round now look much tighter and blend more easier with the other stitches than my first try.
    Even looking at the joining stitches close up, they look consistent and neat. There could be improvement, but I am happy with each round. Even looking at the joining stitches close up, they look consistent and neat. There could be improvement, but I am happy with each round.
    Marked my first single crochet at the beginning of a new round. Marked my first single crochet at the beginning of a new round.

    I was happy to continue with my orange for the tote's body. Soon, I must change colors to black for the top section which included making handles. Another challenge since I had never done anything other than a flat pattern. It's tricky to work with dark colors because it really is challenging to see the stitches. Thank goodness I wasn't learning a new stitch on top of using a dark color for the first time!

    Almost done; I just joined the black yarn. Dark colors make it harder to see each stitch! Almost done; I just joined the black yarn. Dark colors make it harder to see each stitch!

    I did have to rip out the first handle once, but after that I "saw" the stitches more clearly and could complete the handles successfully. If I was an experienced crocheter, I might have opted to make the handles thicker. I say this because if this tote bag will be used by an avid trick-or-treater who might gather multiple pounds of candy, while swinging the bag to-and-fro, I might try to add another round to the handles.

    It really looks like a tote bag! Now for the finishing touches: the spider web and spider! EEK! It really looks like a tote bag! Now for the finishing touches: the spider web and spider! EEK!

    Okay - let's make this tote bag Halloween-ready...

    Voila; now I can more safely walk the neighborhood for trick-or-treat fun! Voila; now I can more safely walk the neighborhood for trick-or-treat fun!

    The spider web was not difficult to do. Just count the number of stitches/spaces to determine where to stitch your web in a fairly symmetrical placement on your Halloween Tote. Ta-dah, done! I love it, and not in a braggadocios way, but in an accomplished manner. It is a very compact and sturdy tote bag.

    Have fun getting revved up for October 31st by planning your decorations, costumes, and trick-or-treat travel route. Happy Halloween!

    Martha

     

  • Halloween Tote: Swatch Ready

    Aren't these silly questions: Do I really need another tote bag? Do I really need more yarn? I laughed out loud when I saw this Dory comic saved by Knitting Paradise on Pinterest. I have new Light Reflecting Yarn and a pattern for halloween tote, time to get started.

    For the love of yarn; found on Pinterest. For the love of yarn; found on Pinterest.

    I've only been learning to knit and crochet on-and-off for two years now; I've been coloring a lot the past 12 months! In this short amount of time, even I have accumulated five bins of yarn. However the lure of a new project, or a new color or texture of yarn, certainly inspires me to try something new. Plus, if the project is seasonal...BINGO, count me in! 

    Latest goal: I want to make this super-cute seasonal Halloween Tote. It is pictured in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions, using Red Heart's new line of Reflective yarn. What makes this tote unique is the promise of it being reflective; a silver grey reflective thread is spun with the other yarn fibers. This yarn and tote seem perfect for nighttime trick-or-treating while walking under the street lights, visiting neighborhood houses for treats.

    GOAL: To make a Halloween Tote Bag like the one pictured in Leisure Arts' item 75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions. GOAL: To make a Halloween Tote Bag like the one pictured in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions.

    Crochet and knit projects require one to learn the language of the craft. In addition, the crocheter and knitter must try to learn the stitches. Once the mechanics of making the stitch(es) is mastered, the crocheter and knitter must work towards having consistent gauge. Gauge is why every project has the measurements for a swatch.

    Challenge No. 1 - Gauge: I've only made projects that were more lenient when it comes to gauge, i.e., dishcloths, a bandana, and fingerless mitts.

    Challenge No. 2 - Multi-strands held together.

    Challenge No. 3 - Working in-the-round.

    Understanding and doing are two different things; my comprehension of the instructions was one thing, my performance was another. I ripped out my first swatch after three rounds. I realized I was adding a chain stitch before every single crochet. Lesson learned: don't try to fit a new project into your schedule if you are tired.

    Here is my second swatch using four strands of Bulky weight yarn. This is NOT the yarn that will be used for my Halloween Tote, but it is the correct weight and number of strands held together. I definitely needed to use stitch markers!

    In-the-Round Swatch No. 2 - Using four strands of Bulky weight as called for in the directions. Oh, boy; the swatch is lopsided! In-the-Round Swatch No. 2 - Using four strands of Bulky weight yarn as called for in the directions. Oh, boy; the swatch is lopsided!

    I discovered that I was not recognizing the correct stitch when ending a round or joining; this resulted in too many stitches. I resorted to doing another swatch holding one strand, making my stitches very loose and using a Light weight yarn. I wanted to see each stitch very clearly.

    In-the-Round Swatch No. 3 - Back to one strand in Light weight; trying to see the construction of each stitch. In-the-Round Swatch No. 3 - Back to one strand in Light weight; trying to see the construction of each stitch.

    I learned where my error was occurring: I was not recognizing the first single crochet at the beginning of each round. When I finished each round, I needed to join the last single crochet to the first single crochet with a slip stitch. Instead, I was joining to the chain made at the beginning of the round. Okay; I learned my error. My fix was to use a stitch marker so I would not question the location of the first single crochet when I needed to finish the round by joining with a slip stitch.

    I didn't like the uneven open spaces that Swatch No. 3 had in some portion of the rounds. Granted I was still experimenting, but I decided to make another swatch. I didn't have any more of my practice Bulky weight yarn, so I chose Super Bulky yarn to make my next swatch. I would be more careful with the construction of my rounds with the hope of having tighter stitches.

    In-the-Round Swatch No. 4 - Using one strand but in Super Bulky weight. Okay; better gauge and count is correct. In-the-Round Swatch No. 4 - Using one strand of yarn but in Super Bulky weight. Okay; better gauge and count is correct.

    Alright; I think this is better! The stitch count is correct with their construction and gauge being more consistent. I felt like this was a major accomplishment -- three cheers for me! At least this was recognizable or passable as the bottom of a tote bag.

    I'm as ready as I can be; now it's time to open my new Reflective yarn and begin. I am a bit tentative, but I will get continual inspiration by looking at the finished Halloween Tote as pictured in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions.

    This Halloween Tote is one of the featured projects found in #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions. My goal is to make one for this season! This Halloween Tote is one of the featured projects found in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions. My goal is to make one for this season!

    Wish me luck; I'll keep you posted on my progress!

    Martha

  • T-Shirt Bags

    T-shirt Bag T-shirt Bag

    It is Memorial Day Weekend that means warm weather can’t find a bag to take to the pool or beach. Back in April sometime around Earth Day I was aimlessly looking at different websites were I came across how to recycle old t-shirts. I cannot remember where I saw this. But I thought what a clever way to reuse those old favorite tees that you got a stain on or accidentally splashed bleach on or even your kid’s favorite tees that they have out grown. Turn them into bags. Make a bag for groceries, kid’s overnights, or even to give away as a gift. I myself never have enough bags to put projects in.

    Step One: Find a t-shirt that you don’t mind cutting up.

    FullSizeRender (16)

    Step Two: Cut sleeves and ribbing off the neck and arm. (I like cutting at the seam and I do the front first and lay it flat to cut a little more off the back so that the front and back matches)

    IMG_7554

    Step Three: Turn t-shirt inside out and lay flat making sure that the bottom seam is even then cute 3-4 inches on both sides after that is done you are ready to start cutting anywhere from ½ an inch to an inch. I didn't measure I just guessed at it.

    IMG_7555

    Step Four: Pick an end and start making knots all the way across.

    Remember you want to make sure to turn your shirt inside out so your knots don’t show. I hope that you enjoy recycling some old t-shirts. I don’t know if you can post photos of your projects. But if you can I would love to see some of them. I know that I didn't get this from a Leisure Arts book but here is another clever idea to recycle your favorite T-Shirts a book by Leisure Arts called T-Shirt Quilt by Linda Causee. Maybe some day when I have enough nerve I will do this with all of my Hard Rock Cafe tees that I have collected over the years.

  • To Crochet a Little Clutch

    I finished crocheting the Embellished Clutch from Totes & Bags!  You may have noticed that it's not embellished. 

    All in good time.  After I finished crocheting the second side and seamed the two pieces together, I was in no mood for more seaming.  So I skipped making the little flowers that were intended to embellish the Embellished Clutch.  For now, anyway.  I think I'll find something to fancy this up a bit. 

    I like this little bag a lot!  It calls for an H hook and two strands of super fine yarn held together.  I used some Kroy sock yarn and used up the skeins.  I just had a tiny bit left after crocheting and stitching the sides together.  It was perfect!  Sock yarn is super durable, and will wash well while putting up with plenty of 'life' things.  Which is great because I already checked to see if this is a little clutch I can actually carry in my real life and it looks like I can!

    I bet I could even fit some tissues and gum in there!  Fantastic!

    A cotton yarn might make this a more practical project, though.  I was just using what I had to check out the pattern for the body of this bag.  And I have to say that I like this bag a lot.  It's sturdy because of the two strands of yarn.  It's simple because it's single crochet stitches.  And it's big enough to hold my essentials, but small enough that these little straps will hold it without the whole thing doing that gaping/collapsing thing that can happen with bags sometimes.  You just chain some stitches, skip some stitches, and go on about your merry crocheting way for a few more rows.

    This was a pleasant little project, and now it's a lovely little clutch.  I'm looking forward to figuring out what embellishments to add to it very soon.  I couldn't leave something this cute unadorned for long!

  • WIP Wednesday: Crocheting the Lace Tote from Enviro-Totes

    Hello! We're smack in the middle of summer and I'm currently crocheting another bag.  This time it's the Lace Tote from Enviro-Totes.

    I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again and probably won't stop until we have some cooler temperatures: bags are a fantastic summer project. A big tote, a small clutch, or anything in between is the perfect summer project.  They're quick and creative and they're some of my personal favorites.  And!  This one is using cotton yarn!

    All four patterns in Enviro-Totes call for cotton yarn, but this project feels extra special because I'm using up scrap yarn.  Man, I love using up scrap yarn.  I took a bunch of my yarn scraps and tiny fragments of skeins and wound them into balls a couple of months ago.  Then I almost immediately forgot about them.  But as I was getting ready to work on this project, I debated using my cone of cotton yarn for the whole bag or maybe making the bottom, sides, and top edging in three different colors.  The pattern calls for just one color, but I was feeling like working with a little more color.  And then I remembered that I could be working with a lot more color.

    So here we are!  Lots of color!

    By using up my yarn scraps I'm being environmentally friendly and saving landfills a little bit of space (to say nothing about how, if I remember to actually take this tote to the store, I'll skip out on using hundreds of plastic bags!).  And I'm doing a great thing economically because I'm pretty sure I have over 600 yards of scrap yarn ready for this project.  So yay!  My complete skeins can be saved for dishcloths and I can use up my bright cottony remnants and I'm going to get a tote bag out of the deal! And I'm working on a tote bag in the summer and I love working on just about any kind of bag in the summer.  Hooray!

    I'm using an H hook, and worsted weight cotton yarn in every color and of every brand.  I'm almost wishing that I only did color changes at the beginnings of new rows, but just barely almost.  For the most part I really like this literally ragtag project.  I'm adding new colors when I pull the thread through all three loops of the half double crochet stitches, and then I crochet over the ends.  I won't be doing very much weaving in ends, and I think I like the way the red center of the bottom of this bag looks.

    This could just be my summer bag crafting euphoria speaking, but I think I'm really going to like how this turns out.

  • Begining to Crochet the Lace Clutch from Totes & Bags

    I'm crocheting the Lace Clutch pattern from Totes & Bags. I love it!

    Ordinarily, some muscle behind my right eye begins twitching whenever I see a pattern call for working with two strands of yarn held together (there are plenty of yarns in any weight you could ever need!  Come on!), but this looked so cute!

    And I like the idea of a small summery clutch that will hold keys and a wallet for quick trips out. Plus, I had just the lightweight yarn just for this project!

    I received four skeins Louisa Harding Lanthe for my birthday a few months ago and was saving them for just the right project. The yarn is half cotton and half extra fine merino, and light and oddly stretchy.  This makes it surprisingly easy to crochet these fairly tight single crochet stitches.  The pattern calls for approximately 300 yards, and I have 400.  I'm all set!  This is a perfect project for the perfect yarn.

    This also feels like a perfect project for summer.  You know one when you see it.  Bags and purses are perfect summer projects because they don't take up too much space on your lap and make your legs hot.  They're usually fairly small and quick as well, which is perfect for when it's too hot to concentrate.  Plus, wit all the extra time you (I) spend outside, it's always nice to have something new to carry your things.  This is also a fairly simple little project.

     

    The bag's body is made up of single crochet stitches worked flat.  The flap will be a fun change of pace when I switch to some lovely double crochet shells.  I'm note sure if I'll line this.  On one hand, I think I have some cute fabric to go with this yarn.  On the other hand, I think the crocheted fabric will be dense enough on its own for the bag to hold its shape--and my stuff!

    This is already turn out to be a great little summer project, and I can't wait for it to turn into a great summer bag!

  • Finishing the Granny Square Market Tote!

    It's finished!  I have finally completed the Granny Square Market Bag from Totes & Bags!

    For some reason, this was a struggle.  The pattern itself is fine, and I'm usually a sucker for anything with granny squares.  But there is so much seaming!  So much weaving in ends! 

    So many modifications that I just felt were necessary for me to finish!  By the time I finished I was just changing things up just because.

    Single crochet strips five stitches across and placed too closely to the center?  Not part of the pattern!

    In the beginning, I made the squares.  I was quite faithful to the pattern.  Actually, no.  Never mind that.  I mixed up the colors.  And on a few of the squares I worked double crochet rows when I was supposed to work half double crochet rows.  That wasn't so much an modification as a dumb mistake.  It's fine.  I don't think the difference shows too badly.

    But then I had to arrange the squares and sew them together.  I don't like sewing.  But I did it.

    Then I was supposed to crochet three panels to connect the two sides.  Three. Separate. Panels.  Two of which involved stripes.  I don't know why it seemed like this was too much for me to handle, but it did.  Also, I somehow made the stripey panel look utterly, sickeningly, bad.

    So once decided that crocheting one big panel that would run around all three sides of my granny squares, everything seemed much more fun.  So that's what I did!

    And I crocheted it on because it felt like the sturdier option. Fine.  I just didn't want to seam this.

    And when I realized I wouldn't have enough brown yarn left to work the rows around the top of the bag, working three little rows of stripes seemed like fun!

    Also, I didn't have straps for the handles, so crocheting them seemed fine.  I don't know what happened!  I mean, this is a great pattern but I had a lot more fun once I started ignoring it.  Some projects are like that, I guess.  But!  This pattern is a fantastic jumping point. 

     

    And this bag is super cute.

    And so is my husband, who graciously modeled the bag for me.

  • A Tote to Keep Me Trying. Or a Tote that is Trying Me.

    I'm working on the Granny Square Market Bag from Totes & Bags.  Yes, still.

    This is going to be a lovely finished object, but I'm getting a little impatient with it.  There are just so many little squares.  The very thing that initially made me want to make this bag is now what's driving me crazy.

    So. Many. Little. Squares.

    Also, working the side panel got me flustered because I had six balls of yarns getting tangled up all over the couch.

     

    Also, I got flustered because I'm terrible about working half double crochet stitches and that's all you do on the side and bottom panels.  I know the wonkiness won't show once everything's stitched together (or so I pray), but it's currently really getting me down and I'm in no mood to make a second side panel.  But it would seem I'm also in no mood to finish the bottom panel because that's super boring.

    And the squares!  All those little squares that are three colors apiece!  All those ends to weave in!  Sixteen squares on either side that have to be stitched together!  All these ends to weave in on all these parts and the sewing and the stuff!
     
    Why am I even doing this?
    Uh, well, because I still sort of want to!  These squares are too small for me to turn into a banner, so I can't just repurpose the pieces.  And I want to finish this bag since I tried once before to make it and kind of lost steam.

    Also, this is going to be a beautiful bag once it's finished!  My desire for a beautiful market bag is outweighing my frustration with the project.  And I have to say that my frustration isn't due to some kind of problem with pattern.  I'm just kind of tired of working on it.  
    But!  Motivation has arrived! Our farmers market is re-opening this weekend and that means we'll have some produce to haul around.  And I really want to haul it around in this bag.  The colors are so bright!  The acrylic is going to be so sturdy and easy to wash!  Plus, granny squares!    
    Granny squares are always a good enough reason to try a project.  And to finish it.
    I don't think I'll have this finished in time for my first farmers market trip of the year, but maybe I will next week.  I do know it will be finished very soon, and I'll be carrying this lovely creation around everywhere and considering making another one.

    Maybe.

  • A Tote to Try Again

    I'm going to make a tote!

    Obviously I should make some more squares.  I'm trying out the Granny Square Market Bag from Totes & Bags.

    I tried to make this pattern once before, but I just wasn't feeling the cotton yarn for these little squares.

     

    Goodness knows why, because they were adorable.

     

    For whatever reason, I just haven't tried out this pattern.  But I cleaned up some of my stash this weekend and decided to use up some yarn I actually liked and here we are.

     

    Little pieces that will become blocks that will become panels that will become part of a bag.  I'm pretty excited about having a bag I made for myself, and I think this is going to look incredibly cheerful.

     

    I'm using acrylic yarn, mostly Red Heart with some Vanna's Choice and some sort of Michaels knockoff of Red Heart.  Yes, there is a store brand knockoff of Red Heart for when the real thing is just too fancy and pricey and I buy it sometimes.   It's great for larger projects and the scraps are great for projects like this.

     

    I've already crocheted all of the circles in the middle of the squares, and now I'm mixing up colors.  I'm using dark brown for my main color and I think this is going to be a great traveling toy bag/farmers market tote/storage bin type of bag.  I'm hoping to work on it a little bit more this weekend!  I think the overall look is going to be kind of like a kaleidoscope, and I can't wait to see this as a finished object.


  • Did Someone Say "Granny Squares"?!

    I've started the Granny Square Market Bag from Totes and Bags because it's a market bag made with granny squares. 

    Look at it!  It's a market bag made with granny squares!  Two of my favorite things!

    When my husband saw me flipping through the book, he asked "Haven't you already made a market bag?"  I replied, "Uh, no.  This is a granny square market bag. What I made last time was circles crocheted into squares that were supposed to be a purse that I made into a market bag by adding rows."

    We held eye contact.


    "So yes." I finally said.

    I do love a good market bag.

    I decided to use cotton yarn instead of acrylic because all that dishcloth-making making has left me with a ton of cotton scraps, and a lot of those scraps are bright and beautiful.

    I fall into the trap of thinking handmade things need to be treated with extra care (unless it's dishcloths.  Those get some crazy cleaning abuse), even when I know how sturdily constructed they are because I did the constructing!  So I'm hoping that at least being able to wash this finished object like a dishcloth because some squash was muddy or some milk leaked on it will help me drag out reusable bags more often.

    Also, I think this is going to be incredibly pretty.  I haven't decided if I'll crochet the stripes on the side panels yet, but I want to do some kind of multicolored thing.  I'm using navy blue yarn as my main color, and I'm trying to stick with really bright colors. 

    I'm also trying to make sure I don't make the same square twice.

    I'll work on this as I have the scraps to do so.  This calls for 40 squares altogether, and then I'll use scraps and more of my main color for the bottom, side panels, and straps.  7 and 1/2 squares in, and I'm already really enjoying this!

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