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  • Cowls, Mods, and the Best Laid Plans

    I crocheted a cowl from Scarves & Cowls!  It was the Anna cowl, to be exact.  It's lovely.

    A few words about Scarves & Cowls.  All of the patterns have names, and each pattern has a cowl version and a scarf version.  And then--then!--there's a chart to help you customize your cowl or scarf to difference widths or lengths.  This is a dream come true for anyone picking out patterns based on their stash. 

    I've wanted to try the Anna cowl for a while.  One, it calls for Lion Brand Amazing and I automatically love anything that calls for Lion Brand Amazing.  It's my favorite.  And two, it's a very simple pattern.

    There are times when I want a project that's incredibly involved and challenging.  And then there are times when I want to work on something that includes phrases like "And then work Row 2 until your project reaches this certain length or until you're happy with it. Whatever."  I may be paraphrasing a bit, but I was in a mood for one of those 'Row 2 forever' patterns and this really hit the spot.  It's a mix of single crochet stitches and half double crochet stitches worked flat and I think the stitches look like little flowers.

    I had two partial skeins of Lion Brand Amazing, so I made a beginning chain from the chart.  I used the Roses and the Aurora colors.  I think the red blended into the pink pretty well!

    Also, the cowl doesn't have to be twisted before seaming, but it's an option for people who want to.  And I always want to, at least with crochet cowls. This was an easy and quick project.  Amazing yarn is Aran weight, and the pattern calls for a J hook.  I made this in one (somewhat late) night last week before my husband was set to take out daughter to visit my mom.  I had intended to make her something earlier in the week, but the day sort of sneaked up on me and there I was--giftless the night before.  So I got started on this that night, and then I took these pictures before I went to work.

    And then my husband didn't take it with him.

    Ahem.

    Ugh.  At least I enjoyed working on this, and I think it turned out beautifully.  I'm looking forward to trying more of the patterns from Scarves & Cowls because they look like fun and I think they'll be wonderful gifts.  

    One more thing: hi Mom!  I hope you like this!  It's very warm, and it's headed your way!

    Eventually.

  • I Can't Believe I Knitted This!

    Well!  I have completed my first Fair Isle project. I knitted the Autumn Beanie from I Can't Believe I'm Fair Isle Knitting!

    Remember when I said I had signed up for a knitswap?  I had intended to crochet a beanie, but my partner had sent links to a few Fair Isle patterns to let me know what kind of hats she likes.  And we had all been challenged to try out some new techniques and improve our skills.  So I went for it.  I knitted a slouchy Fair Isle beanie.  I think I'm happy with it?  I think I wish I had switched the red and the purple.  Or the orange and the pink.  I think that means I wish I had made an entirely different hat?  I'm not sure.  There are so many possibilities with four colors!

    I got this to be slouchy by knitting every row that was just one color twice. 

    It added a lot of length and gave the hat a few more chances to relax because....whoa.  I thought I was carrying my yarn really loosely when I was working the more intricate parts of this chart, but maybe not.

    The pattern calls for #4 needles and sport weight yarn.  I used St-Denis Nordique that I got on sale at my local yarn shop, and I think it used about one-third of each skein.  That's about 50 yards of each color, give or take a little.  I obviously used the most of my eggplant-colored yarn, but there's probably still enough left to use it in another color work hat.

    I haven't blocked this yet because I need to weave in my ends first, but I'm hoping my stitches will 'settle' a bit before I mail this hat out this weekend.  And I hope my swap partner likes it because, honestly, I would wear this.  I'm thinking about knitting this in the 'regular' version for myself, but with some yellow thrown in because it's my favorite color.  The chart's pattern repeats were easy to memorize, and I like the look of the hat itself.  And like I said, I'm pretty happy with this first version of it.  I don't think this was too rough for one of my first attempts, and the colors make me think of a sunset.  And I think (hope) that everyone likes sunsets.

     

    Apropos of nothing, I love the decrease.  I love how it looks. It starts off fairly gradually, with a regular row of knitting in between each decrease row in the beginning, but then it just decides, "Nope, you're done!"

    Also, I was surprised to find out that I loved knitting the brim.  Brims with two different colors have scared me for a while now, and I was completely delighted to find out that this wasn't a big deal.  This one is just stretchy enough, and the really solid band of knitting makes me think this will stick well to someone's head.  I don't think it's going to stretch out much, either. Look at how cool this is!

    For the most part, I'm very pleased with how this hat turned out.  I think my knit swap partner will be, too.  And I'm incredibly pleased that I've finished a knitted Fair Isle project!  I can't believe I knitted it!
  • 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.

  • Crocheting A Cowl of Many Colors

     

    I crocheted the cowl from the Toasty Set in Hats & Scarves.  This cowl is going to be incredibly toasty once cooler weather comes, I can assure you!

    The pattern calls for approximately 370 yards of any bulky weight yarn with an N hook, and the model in the book uses Lion Brand Homespun. I even tried that at first.  Y'all, I want to love Homespun so badly.  I really do.  But I can't crochet with it!  Knitting is okay, but crocheting is just not a good idea.  I can chain my stitches just fine, but once I start trying to find my stitches to crochet into it's all over.  This is how far I made it last time:

    Yup, that's a beginning chain. And nothing else.

    Ugh.

    This time, I decided to use up some of the bits of Patons Roving instead.  You and I both know that Patons Roving is super bulky weight yarn, and so does the yarn page on Ravelry.  But!  The label will tell you it's merely bulky weight.  The label is a liar.  I was super surprised when I was halfway through the Garter Ridge Cowl at my knit night a few weeks ago--which calls for super bulky weight yarn and was knitting up just fine with #13 needles--and happened to notice that the yarn was labeled as being bulky weight.  I couldn't believe it, and neither could the other knitters at the table when I demanded they all check the label as well just so I could make sure I could trust my eyeballs.  So weird!

    Anyway!  I bet you could use either a bulky weight yarn or a super bulky weight yarn to crochet this.  As long as you've got a hook you're comfortable using (I had my N hook) and enough yarn, you can really do whatever you want.  This is made of eight rows of double crochet stitches worked in the round.  You can use all one color of yarn, or you can use a different color for every stripe!  It's a cowl!  There's not much that can go wrong as long as you don't run out of yarn! I used the remains of some skeins in Aran, Orchid, Pacific Teal, and whatever colorway the pumpkin-orange yarn is.  I thought they would look fun mixed together, and they do!

     

    It's also 100% wool, so this is fluffy and warm.  Whatever yarn you use, I would advise you to make sure it's good and fluffy.  This thing is large and you don't want to carry around too much weight!

    I think this is going to be a great accessory in the fall.  I could wear it alone, or layer it over a cardigan or jacket.  The teal keeps this from looking too stereotypically fall-esque.  It's warm and lovely and can be looped around THREE whole times if I want it to, and I'm pretty pleased with this cowl of many colors.  I'm sure it will bring me luck and happiness.*

    *With apologies to Dolly Parton for ripping her off a little bit.  And apologies to you if listening to that song made you cry the way it always makes me cry.  But I do always think of Dolly Parton's sweet and resourceful mama whenever I get the chance to use up every last bit of my resources to make something.

  • Knitting a Sweet Little Stash Buster. I Mean, Blanket.

    I have been knitting the Blue Striped Blanket pattern from Knit in a Day for Baby because I'm a sucker for a quick knit blanket that calls for super bulky yarn.  This is precious!

    A little back story: last week, I went by the Leisure Arts offices to pick up some yarn because sometimes I do that.  It's an awesome perk of the job......and an organizational nightmare.  Like most crafters faced with free supplies, I might have gotten a bit carried away.  Or a lot.  Or maybe you could say I got outright dumb.  I'm not here to argue semantics.  But I will concede that what seemed a only a tiny bit unreasonable as I was picking out skeins felt somewhat excessive as I was carrying the boxes to my car.  By the time I had two full-size boxes of yarn in the middle of my living room floor, I knew I had officially Made An Unwise Decision. 

    But!  Knitting and crocheting are great ways to use up yarn!  Who knew?!  Okay, we all knew.  And since I grabbed several partial skeins of Bernat Baby Blanket, a baby blanket seemed like a perfect (and painfully obvious) project!  This pattern calls for about 650 yards of super bulky weight yarn and #13 needles to create a blanket that is around 25" wide and 30" long. 

     

    Mine may be a bit shorter, but I think I have enough yardage for at least a square blanket.  I'm just knitting the border in yellow and using just one yarn for the body, instead of striping my border color with a contrast color. 

    You knit the sides in garter stitch and seam them to the body. Garter stitch!

    The Pitter Patter colorway (awwwww!) is a mix of yellow, white, pink, and blue that's so sweet it makes me want to smash a birthday cupcake into some vanilla ice cream.  That's what the yarn reminds me of, by the way.  It's sweet like sugar and happiness.  I think it's going to be a wonderful baby blanket.

     

    I have six baby blankets that I need to make in the next few months, and I've only finished one.  But since this is a blanket made with super bulky yarn and #13 needles (I keep mentioning this because it's music to my soul), I think I'll be adding this blanket to my gift stash next!  I obviously haven't knit this in a day, but I made it roughly one-third through in just a night.  And after a couple more evenings with this soft and squishy yarn and this straightforward pattern, I'll have five fewer skeins of yarn taking up space in my living room! 

    And a delightfully fluffy and soft baby blanket to give to some little baby who's sweet like sugar and happiness. I love it.

  • Crocheting the Hybrid Scarf with Lightweight Yarn

    I've started crocheting the Hybrid Scarf pattern from The Cuffed Shawl and More, and I've changed a few things since last time.  For starters, I'm using sock yarn!

    I discovered that I have three skeins of some Patons Kroy Socks in Flax, and I don't know what else to do with it.  I distinctly remember having some kind of plan when I bought it (no, not socks), but I can't remember that plan for the life of me.  So now it's going to be a scarf and I think it's already awesome. The pattern calls for for about 450 yards of worsted or aran weight yarn and a K crochet hook.  There are eight rows worked in double crochet stitches and some type of gloriously gradient yarn.  The book model is made with Red Heart Boutique Treasure, and I used Lion Brand Amazing.  They're both fantastic yarns. 

    But I had wondered about this scarf with a lighter yarn, and I think a solid color will work nicely.  I jumped down to an E hook, though an F hook would probably look nice and extra airy. The stitches fit together fairly snugly, but this isn't stiff.  I'm not sure how many rows I'll need to crochet until this looks long enough (wide enough? I guess it depends on how you're wearing it), but I'll probably just crochet until I run out of yarn.  That may or may not be my life motto anyway.

     

    Since this is for me, I'm going to skip the scalloped edging again.  I love the points where the increase stitches are worked, and I think leaving them uncovered will make this look more shawl-like. 

     

    This may sound odd, but I'm hoping this looks like bat wings when it's all spread out.  I just think bat wings would look nice for an autumnal shawl-scarf hybrid, even if I probably will wear this bunched up like a scarf most of the time.  I still think it's going to be lovely, and I'm going to keep thinking as I work my way through this project.

  • 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: Around the Block and Back Again

    I made the Around the Block dishcloth from Dishcloths!  It's easy to modify this for seasonal colors!  You might remember that I made this dishcloth once before in red, green, and ecru for Christmas.

    You probably don't remember that.  Or I kind of hope you don't.  Your brain is so amazing and does so much complicated work.  I would feel weird if you were using your finite memory to think about dishcloths.  Anyway!

    I enjoyed making that dishcloth and I loved how it looked.  I mean, I loved it so much that I kept it.  Most of my dishcloths are given away as gifts.  But every now and then, a rare dishcloth will come along and I'll just have to keep it.  The Around the Block pattern is such a dishcloth pattern.  I love how it looks!  The whole thing is made up of chaining one and single crocheting into the spaces.  Sort of.  The pattern is easy to follow and I love how the stitches form weird lines.

    I used red, white, and blue because I'm just in that kind of mood this week.

    I even used a G hook instead of my regular H hook because THIS one is red.

    Summer is here, this looks like the kind of dishcloth you'd throw down to use as an impromptu hot pad for your apple pie.  Seriously, if I don't wind up giving this to someone as a hosting present when I attend a barbecue I'm going to doubt myself as an American crafter forever.  This is just too perfect.  I'm incredibly pleased with how it turned out.

     

    If I had to make this again, each color pattern would have two rows of blue and just one row of red.  I just like the way that looks better.  And I went ahead and worked the last round in white as normal instead following the border instructions.  Then I used the blue yarn (Sugar n' Cream Denim) to work another row as normal.  The border didn't look as striking as I'd hoped with another color, and I thought the stitch pattern looked good enough to crochet just one more time.

    One more row wouldn't hurt a dishcloth that already incredibly huge.  Because, whoa.  This is incredibly huge.  The finished size is already intended to be around 10 1/4" square, and my finished object is a tiny bit larger than that.
    A 4" x  4" measuring grid.

    I think this might be an almost perfect pattern.  It's pretty, it's textured, and it's large.  It folds up into a nice size if you really need to scrub something.  It's sturdy as all get-out, and you can play around with any three colors you want!  I love this dishcloth.  I'm not sure how much that last sentence means when it's coming from me, because I love dishcloths a lot, but I do love this one especially a lot. 

  • Crocheting a Rough Draft with the Granny Stripe Blanket

     
     

    Another day, another work-in-progress!  I'm working on the Granny Stripe pattern from Baby Afghans

     

    One of my friends from college is expecting her first baby this fall and I wanted to make her this blanket.  I love rainbow-type color combinations and I thought the dark brown would make this look extra warm and cheerful right as the weather will start to get chilly.  I realized early into the project that I wanted to go up a hook size.  Or two.  My gauge was fine with an H hook, but the end result feels a little too bunchy and stiff. 

     

    But I kept going.  I wanted to see if this would stretch a bit as it grew heavier.  And I wanted to try out this pattern so that I could make this little afghan as beautifully as as I can for my friend and her baby.  One of the reasons I like to make a pattern repeatedly is because it always makes me a little sad and confused when I finally get the hang of something and then I have to go onto the next thing.  I just got good at it!  Why not try it again to make something better?! 

    It's not going to get better than these colors, though. I just want to put that out there.

    When my friend and I were just a few weeks into college, we started giving each other our papers to review if we (fine, I) had them finished a day or two before a deadline.  We would check each others work and offer feedback.  This time around, I'm really taken with the idea of mailing her a blanket that's been fully planned, well-composed, and carefully crafted.  I think I ripped off a syllabus section about essay answers in quizzes.  I've been reminiscing a lot about our time together in school and my memory takes me on some strange detours sometimes.  Anyway, my point is that I don't mind that this blanket isn't The Blanket. 

    I've been thinking about the color arrangement and I do believe I'm going to follow the instructions and repeat the color repeats twice instead of mirroring them like I'm doing with this one.   I'll figure out how to weave in these ends discretely. 

     

    And, of course, I'll make this larger. I don't know what I'll do with this rough draft of a baby afghan.  But I have one more row of the border to crochet and then the real work of making the next version will begin.  I'm really looking forward to it.

  • I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Toddler Mittens!

     
     

    I'm making some mittens!  Tiny, toddler-sized mittens!  The Basic Mittens pattern from I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Mittens is helping me create some adorable little mittens for my three-year-old.

    They're lovely.  I'm using #5 needles and some Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica that I have left from when I knitted mine.  We're going to match this winter!  I can't wait!

    Mine.
    Hers.

    I first learned to make mittens this winter from the 36-stitch Mitten Pattern from Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann .  I really like the method of working the thumb holes by knitting a few stitches onto waste yarn, and then unraveling it later to pick up the free stitches.  So that's what I'm going to do with these mittens. 

     

    However, the instructions in I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Mittens! suggest a pretty interesting construction that involves a little bit of moving stitches around and casting on some new ones that I would try if I was more adventurous.  But since I just figured out how to knit mittens a short while ago, I'm sticking with what I know because I want these to be nice.

    Working with the four needles is going along just fine, and things only feel too 'slippery' when I'm on the last few rows.  There's an excellent tutorial here about working with double pointed needles, and I thought it was a nice refresher course to watch before I got started.

     

    I'm working on my second mitt now, and I'll save the thumbs for last.  I know that cold weather is a long ways off, but I'm excited about finishing these little mittens quickly.  I want to be ready and I want to see these on my little girl's hands!

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