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granny squares

  • Fiber Art: Yarn Bombing, a Yarn Doll and Yarn Crafts

    I have been intrigued by yarn bombing for years but put my interest on hold after seeing only knit and crochet pieces used in the "bombing".  Since I had only started to learn how to knit and crochet, I couldn't imagine trying to create something quickly enough to use as self-expression in the greater outdoors. But as Craftsy has noted, the common denominator for this decorative self-expression is yarn. As a result, the artistic talents of many individuals may be creations that include multiple needle craft and fiber art categories.

    Some additional background information suggests that yarn bombing alters the visual landscape usually found in an urban setting. It is taking the craft of knitting and crocheting from the stereotyped image of grandma to the next level of free-form textile artistry that is a non-destructive way of voicing your opinion.

    Earlier this year, the inside of Leisure Arts started showing signs of fiber artistry appearing in open spaces. I gasped in an, "A-Ha!" moment; these office embellishments were versions of indoor yarn bombing. On the first floor, Tina's coat rack was covered with granny squares.

    A coat rack gets a yarn bombing makeover -- love the pom-pom hairdo and craft supply goo-goo eyes! A coat rack gets a yarn bombing makeover -- love the pom-pom hairdo and craft supply goo-goo eyes!

    The lobby furniture had its transformation, too.

    Add a lampshade tassel, tabletop cover and ripple wrap to an end table for a yarn makeover. Add a lampshade tassel, tabletop cover and ripple wrap to an end table for a yarn makeover.
    Complimentary colors are used for the longer table runner. Complimentary colors are used for the longer table runner.

    The use of textiles in artwork and home decor is not limited to crochet, knit, plastic canvas or other traditional skill categories and uses of yarn. Fiber art is alive and growing; it can be done by many as a way to decorate their homes with handmade artwork. Look at one of the pieces done by Jen, a Leisure Arts' friend. This owl dreamcatcher is her interpretation of one of the projects found in Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts.

    A trio of dreamcatchers connected together with added feathers to form the shape of an owl. A fabulous interpretation of a project found in Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts. A trio of dreamcatchers connected together with added feathers to form the shape of an owl. A fabulous interpretation of a project found in Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts.

    I thought a yarn doll needed to be sitting on the lobby's settee; Tina and I started brainstorming! A shopping bag of partial skeins of yarn was collected as Tina thought what to use as the framework to hold the yarn as it was wrapped. The solution: an inverted sofa table.

    A life-sized yarn doll is going to be part of the Leisure Arts' yarn bombing decor. In order to make a life-sized yarn doll, many partial skeins of yarn would be wound around the legs of an inverted table. A life-sized yarn doll is going to be part of the Leisure Arts' yarn bombing decor. In order to make a life-sized yarn doll, many partial skeins of yarn would be wound around the legs of an inverted table.

    As the wrapping continues, watch as the mound of yarn skeins on the couch diminishes as the wound yarn around the sofa table legs increases.

    Around and around; look at all of the yarn gathered for a life-sized yarn doll! The table legs are acting as a frame to hold the yarn before gathering and tying off by sections. Around and around; look at all of the yarn gathered for a life-sized yarn doll! The table legs are acting as a frame to hold the yarn before gathering and tying off by sections.
    Many colors, textures and weights of yarn are wound around the legs of an inverted table in preparation for the life-sized yarn doll. Many colors, textures and weights of yarn are wound around the legs of an inverted table in preparation for the life-sized yarn doll.

    The next step in creating the yarn doll is to separate its form into sections. Since this yarn doll is going to be life-sized, the yarn needs some extra support. To add extra stability to the form's framework, Tina added cut pieces of a pool noodle into the yarn sections. The cut sizes of the pool noodle pieces are based on the proportions of your own life-sized yarn doll creation.

    Deciding the best way to shape this size doll! A pool noodle is cut into sections; one piece is bent in half to use for the head. The body and legs are gathered and tied in sections. Deciding the best way to shape this size doll! A pool noodle is cut into sections; one piece is bent in half to use for the head. The body and legs are gathered and tied in sections.

    The yarn doll sections are tied with a stronger material than yarn; Tina used jute instead. Tina did not care for the look of the legs so she untied them, but the head, arms and body remained. The yarn doll sits comfortably in a recliner; it really is life-sized!

    Reviewing the doll and deciding on the next step. Look at this yarn doll's dimensions as it sits in a recliner! Reviewing the doll and deciding on the next step. Look at this yarn doll's dimensions as it sits in a recliner!

    Hands are created by cutting the looped yarn at the ends of each arm. The legs have been untied, and the yarn doll will appear to be "dressed" and wearing a skirt. The yarn strands of the untied legs are separated and cut at the bottom to give the free-flowing look of fabric.

    The legs of the yarn doll are going to be "hidden" as if hidden underneath a skirt. The yarn loops at the bottom of the skirt and hands are cut. The legs of the yarn doll are going to be "hidden" as if hidden underneath a skirt. The yarn loops at the bottom of the skirt and hands are cut.

    It's time to prepare the head for some extra embellishment. The yarn doll is now a female who is wearing a skirt. She needs some kind of head covering and maybe some hair. Look what was discovered; how to make your own yarn curls for doll hair!

    The yarn doll is female and she can't have the one tied-off section at the top of her head be visible. She at least needs hair and maybe a kerchief. First, start by making curls. The yarn doll is female and she can't have the one tied-off section at the top of her head be visible. She at least needs hair and maybe a kerchief. First, start by making curls.

    As I am making and baking yarn curls, I started to crochet a granny kerchief. It seemed like it took me hours to complete this easy pattern, but I knew I was anxious to see the finished piece with curly hair and a kerchief. Tina made the yarn doll a bodice or vest; Tina created her own pattern and just estimated the garment's dimensions by holding it against the body of the doll as she progressed. As my kerchief neared completion, the yarn doll was taking on a personality and needed a name; LeiAnn Skane was born.

    The yarn doll now has curly hair and a crocheted kerchief. A crocheted bodice or vest was made, too. Her name is LeiAnn Skane. The yarn doll now has curly hair and a crocheted kerchief. A crocheted bodice or vest was made, too. Her name is LeiAnn Skane.

    At about the time LeiAnn was completed, I joked with Tina that LeiAnn needed a friend  -- or at least a dog to be her buddy. I was thinking of a dog similar in construction to this yarn doll. But Tina remembered as a young girl she would make yarn dogs with the use of a hanger as the wire frame. What a fun addition and fabulous creation was this yarn dog!

    A yarn dog is made using a wire hanger as its framework. Start with the same steps for making pom-poms. A yarn dog is made using a wire hanger as its framework. Start with the same steps for making pom-poms.
    After the winding and tying of each pom-pom is done, tie each onto the frame; the loops of each are not cut. The future dog has been named, Pom-Pom! After the winding and tying of each pom-pom is done, tie each onto the frame; the loops of each are not cut. The future dog has been named, Pom-Pom!

    Of course LeiAnn's dog would need a name, too. Look at the final creation. LeiAnn sits casually with her pooch. Can you guess what the dog's name is before reading any further...

    The yarn doll, LeiAnn, sits with her yarn dog, Pom-Pom. They are the perfect yarn bomb additions to the lobby at Leisure Arts! The yarn doll, LeiAnn, sits with her yarn dog, Pom-Pom. They are the perfect yarn bomb additions to the lobby at Leisure Arts!
    LeiAnn and Pom-Pom wear their IDs! LeiAnn and Pom-Pom wear their IDs!

    LeiAnn and Pom-Pom will greet you in the lobby; they proudly wear identification as members of the Leisure Arts' family. We love the added yarn bombing embellishments to our office decor!

    Martha

     

     

  • Granny Square Headband

    A few weeks ago one of my kids that I nanny for asked me to make them a headband. I asked her what kind of headband and she shrugged her shoulder and said “I don’t know!” So I thought about it and when looking through a crochet book by Leisure Arts called Quick Itty Bitties. I saw this crochet Granny Square Hat. I thought how cute would that be as a headband instead of a hat.

    Granny Square Headband

    I found this cotton yarn Crème de le Crème while on vacation last week in Southport, NC called Angelwings Needle Arts. So I used 5 colors 4 different colors for the granny squares each square has three colors. I know that the pattern calls for more than 4 colors. The 5th color is a light gray I used light gray to crochet the squares together and did a single crochet across the top and the bottom. She can wear this headband now or when it gets cold to keep her ears warm. I like knitting or crocheting with cotton because breaths. This project was quick and easy. It only took a couple hours.

    Granny Square Headband

  • Granny Square Pillow

    I have wanted some pillows for my sofa with bright fun colors. The pillows were either too cheap-looking or too pricey, so I decided to make my own. Granny Squares are fun, easy and quick; it only took a couple of days to do the front and put them together. The hardest part was choosing which color goes next. I used Encore yarn made by Plymouth Yarns. It is an acrylic wool blend yarn from my yarn stash; it's perfect for pillows. I didn't use a book to do my granny squares. If you don’t know how to do granny squares, here are two books to get you started Beginner’s Guide to Crochet Motifs and Granny Square Pillows Crochet E-Pattern.

    Granny Square Granny Square

     

  • In Praise of Yarnbombing Your Own Home

    It's September.  I have already enjoyed a pumpkin spice latte, gone hiking, placed the fall wreath on my front door, and decorated my balcony with a banner made from Square 3 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.

    I'm really in the swing of things this fall!

    I recently took down the banner I made from Square 49 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.   I loved that banner.  With cotton yarn and a slightly nautical look, this was a perfect summery banner for my balcony.

     

    But we're slipping slowly out of summer weather, and the banner has been starting to show some wear and tear.  It needs a good trip through the washing machine, and some squares are a little faded from the sun.  It was time for a new look.

    When I made my fall banner last year, I didn't think about the length of the banner.  I don't know why I wasn't thinking, but I definitely wasn't!  Maybe I got excited about the fall colors, or the fact that I was crocheting granny triangles instead of granny squares.

    Something went a little haywire in my excitement and I made quite a few granny triangles and when I strung them up I had a banner longer than any space in my home.  The balcony is a good place for this!

    Sometimes I feel a little weird about tossing my handmade items out into the elements.  I worry that having a bunch of things out on the balcony will look a little trashy.  I almost worry about some yarnbomb-hating person reading this and getting all huffy (I've seen it happen before. Did you know people on the Internet have really strong opinions?!), but not quite because I'm an adult and don't care.  If I had made someone a blanket and they left it out in the rain, I'd be in a huff to end all huffs.  But these are a few squares that I enjoyed making and now I've out where I can enjoy them.  I can't think of a more fun way to declare "A crafter lives here!" than doing silly things like this every once in a while.

    We live in an apartment and since we're stuck with Apartment Beige walls we can't change and ugly carpet we can't change and a really ineffective dishwasher we can't change, decorating our little home is a big change we can make to make this space truly ours.  We have family photos and my daughter's drawings on the wall, my husband's posters and cookbooks spread everywhere, and I've covered every major piece of furniture with an afghan.  Banners and blankets make our home cheerful and inviting.  I think adding a little yarn to our balcony keeps it looking festive and homey.

    I'm starting to wonder about Christmas decorations.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Crocheting a Very Dignified Dishcloth

    I have a lot of weird reactions to dishcloth patterns, and I catch myself attributing lots of characteristics to the things I make.  Dishcloth #84 from Big Book of Dishcloths struck me as dignified and old fashioned.  

    I'm not entirely sure why, but 'old fashioned' and 'dignified' kept going through my head while I was crocheting this.  It looks like the kind of quilt design you'd see painted on the side of barn.  Do you have those in your area?  I never seem to see them in Arkansas. When I drove through the Midwest to go to a wedding in Iowa a few years ago, I saw lots of barns with quilt-style patterns painted on several barns.  They were lovely!  I don't know why anyone would do that, but it seems like a nice tradition.

    Maybe 'traditional' is what I'm thinking of with this design. Maybe it reminds me of the kind of afghan someone would make as a wedding gift.  Maybe it's a kind of tile you'd see in an older house.  Maybe I'm just easily impressed by dishcloth patterns.

    Okay, no 'maybe' at all on that last one.  I love dishcloths.  They're tiny works of art.  With #84, I think my favorite element was the cluster stitches at different points in this square. 

     

    Working them in the centers of the rows and then the corners was a little like crocheting the granny square pattern from Complete Guide to Symbol Crochet.

    But while the granny square seemed striking and playful, this dishcloth feels a little staid with its single color.  The only way it could be more serious is if I had used off-white yarn.  Red almost feels frivolous.  As it is, I'm looking at the dishcloth and feeling bad that I have taken our winter coats to the dry cleaners.  I probably haven't memorized enough Bible versus.  It has been weeks since I gave anyone a jar of homemade jelly.

    I also forgot to take a picture earlier in the day, so I had to run out and take pictures on my balcony in order to get enough natural light and now you AND the dishcloth know I don't plan far enough in advance.

    I need to give this dishcloth as a gift very, very soon.  It will be a very earnest gift.  I don't know if I know anyone with a kitchen serious enough for this dignified country lady of a dishcloth.  But I'm sure I can find someone who enjoys a nice traditional-looking pattern with an interesting design.  Because this is a perfect example of that very thing. 

    And probably an excellent cleaner to boot.

  • Little Boy Blue: Crocheting a Sweet Granny Square Baby Blanket

    It's a good week for granny squares! I crocheted Square #49 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet, and this granny square project looks a little different from the last time I made Square #49.

    I love this square pattern.  It works up pretty quickly, and it has some nice detail with the front post treble crochet stitches without being too fussy that you can't think about anything else while you work on it.  Which is great, because I stayed up the entire night watching murder mysteries and crocheting these squares and sewing them together for a baby shower I'm going to today!  I couldn't be more pleased!

    And by that, I mean I really like this blanket.  I don't like that I spent the night crocheting instead of sleeping, but these things happen sometimes.  Especially when you spend more than a week trying out baby afghan patterns and ruining them every single time with poor yarn choices (Dark blue?! Dark blue!!!), incorrect yardage, or plain ol' common error.  I've set an unfortunate precedent of giving yarncraft baby gifts at my work, and now would not be a good time to bow out.  Since I was short on time and skill (man, I hope my ability to follow a pattern comes back soon!), I went with a cute granny square pattern that I knew I could handle. 

     

    I used an I hook and some Red Heart yarn because I firmly believe that baby blankets should be made from acrylic yarn at all times.  Even when people appreciate super fancy gifts made with natural fibers and would normally be fine with special washing instructions, I'm hesitant to give a new parent something that requires special care.  People with new children have enough in their lives that requires special care, and sometimes babies do things to blankets (sweaters/hats/lovies) that can only be helped with some strong detergent and high heat.  Red Heart gets softer every time you wash it, and lasts for decades.  Plus, I think these colors are pretty.  After seaming the squares together, I crocheted a single crochet border around the blanket.  One row was gray to tie everything together a little more, and the last row was the light blue to perk things up a bit.  If you're curious, I used Blue Suede, Turqua, and Grey Heather.

    And I was pretty thrilled that when I joked with my husband about picking up a skein of gray yarn while he was out running errands, he actually picked up a skein of gray yarn!  I can always use some more gray yarn, but I didn't think I'd use up a whole skein on this!  However, I totally did and I started in on the second skein for the last two squares.  The new skein of gray yarn was a little lighter than the other skein, so I placed those lighter squares in corners across from each other diagonally so the difference would look intentional. 

    Let's pretend like I planned every aspect of this from the very beginning and I wanted this particular blanket all along.  And maybe I did! 

    Fine, I didn't.  But I'm thrilled with how this turned out and I'm glad I had such a good time making this.  But how could I not?  After all, there are granny squares.

  • Of Granny Squares and Garter Stitch

    I crocheted Granny Square #1 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.  Like all granny square projects, this one left me happy and ready to make a few more of these super large squares.

    I nearly always use an H hook for worsted weight yarn, but this pattern calls for quite a few clusters and treble crochet stitches and I didn't want things to get too bunched up.  I moved up to an I hook and I think that helped.  It also made a fairly large square even larger.  With eight rows, this square was about 9" across!  I could make eight more and have a baby blanket!

    See, this is what happens with my crafting.  I try things because I want the finished object, or I like the idea of the project, or I'm interested in the technique--it's always something along those lines until I start to feel overwhelmed by either the crafting projects or actual real life and then it's time to turn to either granny squares or garter stitch.  Garter stitch knitting, in addition to being beautiful and sturdy with its humble and cheerful rows of uniformity and reassurance, relaxes me like almost nothing else.  

    Granny squares, on the other hand, are my go-to project for when I need a diversion.  I just love them.  They're my favorite thing to crochet, and they have a million variations.  They help me use up scrap yarn and they are just so darn lovely.  I tried this pattern after no fewer than FIVE failed attempts at crocheting a bib.  Wouldn't that have been cute?!  A post about a knitted bib for Monday (that garter stitch project was just because I love garter stitch for babies) and then a post about a crocheted bib for Tuesday would have been so great.  But it was not to be.  I'm not sure why, but it really, really, really was not meant to be.  My hopes and dreams for back-to-back bib posts dashed, I turned to 99 Granny Squares to Crochet because that's what always gets me through.  And I have to say, it took me two or three tries to get this little square to come out right.

    A little tricky, but so worth it.

    But that's okay!  I haven't tried a square that looked like this one before, and I wanted to get some practice with it.  And I loved it!  It's beautiful!  It makes me think of stars and flowers and it's really interesting to work up.  I was completely engrossed, but I didn't have to concentrate so intensely that I was unable to think about how sweet some more of these earthy jewel tones (is that a thing?) would look together.  I have a baby shower to go to in a couple of weekends and I think these colors would be great for this little future baby.

    I also have a baby shower this Friday that I haven't started knitting for, but hey.  That was just another reason to sit down and crochet a granny square because I did that and now I feel fine about the tight crafting schedule.  And I have a granny square. 

  • Crafting with Kids: Wreath-Making and Improvising

    I decided my front door wreath could use a bit of an update, so I consulted with Decorate with Ribbon and .... sort of went from there with a little bit of help from a three-year-old.  These things happen.  I just try to enjoy the process as long as the process doesn't involve needles being pulled out of socks.

    It only happened once, but the trauma's going to stick with me for a while.

    To recap, this is what my front door looked like before:

    From Crafting with Florals.

    This is what I thought I would do based on the instructions in Decorate with Ribbon.

    And this was the end result!

    I simply stripped the old burlap from my wreath form.

    Then I wrapped it around the wreath form, and held the ends in place with some blocking pins.

    Then I looked for some type of wide ribbon that was long enough to tie at least a two-loop bow.  Yes, I know there are supposed to be six-loop bow but there's a reason I primarily write about knit and crochet projects.  I'm just not super experienced with bows, and I thought a crisp and simple bow would look plenty cute.  And it darn well would have if I had any wide ribbon in my house.  Which I did not.

    I knew the day would come when I ran out of some type of ribbon I needed for a project, but I did not expect it to be in the middle of a storm.  I decided that bow was not going to happen because I was in no mood to drive back into rush-hour traffic in the rain for anything short of medical supplies or a gallon of milk.  But I knew I liked wreaths I'd seen somewhere on the Internet that had fabric flowers or some other object arranged on a portion of the wreath form.  And what did I have a lot of that would match my big, green letter?

    Granny squares, of course!  I thought about hot-gluing them in place, but opted to use blocking pins instead so that I could reuse them the next time I changed up my wreath.  I thought they looked cute!

    At this point, you're probably wondering how any of this has anything to do with crafting and children.  Well, I was crafting and there was a child in the room.  That means I stopped and restarted this project at least ten times (and three times when I was just trying to take pictures of the finished project hanging up) to answer questions, go potty, refill a cup, and open eight cans of play dough.  There were also three serious discussions about not touching glue guns, I answered twenty or so questions (at least some of them were craft-related), and my little girl liked playing with the granny squares and the letter.  In some ways, I feel like just working on these projects around my daughter counts as crafting with her because she's usually observing and learning.  And also because when we are doing a project together, I'm doing most of the work anyway.

    She didn't even use that hammer.

    Which is as it should be because she's three and has no business being around pins or glue.  I had her stand a respectful distance away as I glued the letter onto the wreath (some of those granny squares aren't going to make it! Eeek!), and she was a big helper when it was time to help me put away the supplies and clear the table for dinner.

    But!  Lest you think I'm just using her for the free housekeeping, I have to tell you that she did make my favorite contribution:

     

    She found a little felt heart with some of the granny squares and wanted to add it to the wreath.  I put some tape on the back so that she could handle it by herself, and she placed it where she thought best.

     

    I'm think it's perfect as a result of her little addition.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Crocheting a Great Granny Square Dishcloth

    I crocheted another dishcloth from The Big Book of Dishcloths

    This time I picked the #33 pattern.  I loved the cluster stitches in the corners.  It's a fun little detail for the increase stitches amidst the plain and simple double crochet stitches.  I just liked how the embellishments appeared to be plopped down very simply in the very simple stitches.  It's a fun look for a granny square, and a very simple pattern to follow.

    I used variegated yarn because the project on the cover was crocheted up in variegated yarn and I thought it looked very cute.  I also just love this yarn because it looks very homey in a country sort of way.  I thought it would look just right in a granny square dishcloth.

    And it does look just right!  The pattern was very intuitive and I love how this turned out.  I skipped the border (the option for a single crochet border, double crochet border, or reverse single crochet border is there for every pattern) because it seemed fine just the way it was.  I'm just that pleased with this little project.  This was a surprisingly quick project.  Just some Sugar 'n Cream yarn, a G hook, and an about an hour was all I needed to make this sunshiny project.

    This was simple and simply perfect!

  • The Perfect Summery Banner for a Balcony

    Remember how much I enjoyed crocheting Square #49 from 99 Granny Squares to CrochetBecause I sure do!  I loved the off-white center and how great it looked with the bright contrast color.  I loved the extra lines created by the front post treble crochet stitches.  I loved how the dark blue border tied everything together. 

    I loved so many things about these squares that I made some more!  And then I made a banner!

    I really enjoy banners.  If we're being honest (and I usually am, for better or worse), I should go ahead and admit that I probably enjoy banners a little more than a person should.  But I'm a crafter, so we'll pretend that's a good enough reason to make more!  Turning granny squares into banners is probably my favorite things to do with them.  I thought these bright, clean-looking squares would look fun and festive on our apartment's balcony.  So that's where they are now!  I finally potted some more plants and rearranged a few things out there to get ready for summer, and adding the banner felt like the happiest possible finishing touch.

    The squares themselves were made with worsted weight cotton yarn and an H hook.  There are no required weights or hook sizes in 99 Granny Squares to Crochet, so you can make your squares are large or as small as you like with whatever materials you like.  I chained fifty stitches for the ties, and there are seven stitches between each square.  I just used single crochet stitches across the tops, and used the same dark blue yarn as I did for the border.

     

    I kind of wish I had made more squares, but I didn't want to repeat any colors, and these were all the solid cotton yarn colors I had.  Oh well.   I'll take it down if it starts to look a little dingy.  It's wonderful for now, and a trip through the washing machine shouldn't hurt it if it comes to that.  This will be fun while it lasts, though.

    And that's more than enough for me.

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