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Friday, August 29, 2014

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Blue Crocheted Basket

I've crocheted a basket!

Finally!  I've tried a few basket patterns before, but I've never finished one.  The Oval pattern from Baskets seemed like a pretty perfect pattern to try, though.  We need plenty of containers around the house to hold little odds and ends and I do always love a good cotton yarn project.  And this is a great cotton yarn project.

This is crocheted with two strands of yarn held together, which will annihilate your joints.  Holy moley.  But if you're really super strong, or if you just take lots of breaks, this is a great project.  After a few wrestling sessions, I made this in the medium size.  It calls for three skeins, and I had two skeins of Robin's Egg Blue by Sugar n' Cream.  I decided to make the bottom of the basket with some Sugar n' Cream Denim.  Once upon a time last summer, I bought three or four skeins of Sugar n' Cream yarn.  My reasons are completely forgotten, and only the stash remains.  I think I have a skein and a half left.  Gracious.  But the dark blue made a nice contrast for the bottom and the top border.

There are three top borders to choose from with this pattern as well!  I went with the long single crochet option because I love the look of long single crochet stitches.  They're made by crocheting into the stitch in the row below.  It's a simple technique that makes a lovely stitch.

This basket is going to hold my daughter's hair accessories in our bathroom.  I'm not sure how all those little pony tail holders and barrettes get everywhere, but they do.  Oh my goodness, how they do.  After I give myself a break from working with cotton yarn held double, I'm probably going to make another one for myself to hold some of my crocheting and knitting notions.  I think I'd like to toss all of my stitch markers and measuring tapes into one large container instead of into some of the smaller containers cluttering up the bookcase in my craft corner.  Maybe I'll try the Round Basket pattern next!

It's even holding craft supplies in this picture!
For now, though, I've got some hair accessories to pick up and a bathroom to tidy.  I'm pretty excited about this little container and I think it's going to look great.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Weekly Dishcloth: Simply the Best

I crocheted Dishcloth #20 from The Big Book of Dishcloths this week and I love it. 

When I first started flipping through this book, I wondered if there was a pattern that was just a simple square made of double crochet stitches.  And this was it!  Yup, that's all this is.  The perfect beginner dishcloth, or the perfect dishcloth for someone who's just in the mood for something simple.  Either way, this is perfect for variegated yarn. 

I was really in the mood to use some of this yarn.  It's Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn and it's in the Camelot colorway.  I love its reds and pinks and not-quite-oranges.  And there's gray!  You wouldn't think gray would work too well with those colors, but it does and I loved it from the moment a destashing friend tossed it my way.  The navy blue yarn I used for the border made a nice contrast.  There are three border options in The Big Book of Dishcloths, and I usually like to pick the one that uses single crochet stitches.  I do love a good single crochet stitch border.

I enjoy variegated yarn, but sometimes I don't want to use it on patterns that use distracting techniques.  If this dishcloth had a lot of front post crochet stitches, the stitches and the yarn would distract from each other and this might look messy.  I like the simple stitches of Dishcloth #20 with this wildly colorful yarn. 

My next crocheted dishcloth is going to be fancy, I promise.  There are some really interesting patterns that use up to three different kinds of yarn and I'm excited about trying them out.  But I just had to try out this variegated yarn before I did anything else.  And I'm glad I did, because this one's a beauty.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Afghan Mania and the African Flower Motif

You know what I should be making?  If you guessed "another dadgum blanket," you're so right!  So what if I have a couple of other blankets that I haven't finished!  I've wanted to make the Squared Afghan pattern from Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs for a while now and last week I snapped a little and got started.  I'd made a square from this once before, and I think getting the hang of it before beginning an actual project helped a lot.  Once I had my colors picked out, I was all set!

I'm using an I hook and worsted weight yarn in red, teal, and yellow.  I knew that skein of teal yarn from the blanket I talked about a couple of weeks ago would come in handy!  I also had quite a bit of red and yellow yarn, too.

Obviously, I have already run out and I'm barely halfway through.  Whoops!  Afghans are big.  I don't know why I forget, but I always do.  This takes a lot of yarn!  I bought my third skein of Caron One Pound--okay, my third skein of yellow--for this year and I might be buying more because this is my border color.  And it turns out I grabbed a skein of Hot Red yarn instead of Cherry Red yarn when I was stocking up on more red yarn.  And you can tell.

But I'll be using Hot Red for all of the rest of my squares, so I think it will look fine.  This is not a state fair blanket, and I'm trusting that the friend I'm making it for will love the almost garishness of the bright colors.  I love red and blue and yellow together, and I love that the blue is more of a teal.  In case you were wondering, the model in the book looks like this:

And that's lovely.  But I take everything pretty literally, and I haven't seen a lot of blue or green flowers.  And this is coming from someone who has grown a ridiculous amount of zinnias.  I wanted my 'flowers' to have more vibrant colors, and now that I think about it, I may have had zinnias on the brain.  Those, or Gerber daisies.  But something bright and beautiful for sure.  And this is really fitting the bill.  I've made all ten of the Square 1 squares.

And now I've made one whole whopping Square 2.

I love them!  This makes a big square (about 10 inches) and this afghan is supposed to measure 44" X 55".  The squares are working up fairly quickly, and I have the pattern mostly memorized.  I really like the African flower motif, and I think I'm going to love how a blanket full of them looks.

And I'm halfway to finding out for sure!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pocket Guides and Plans

I am not a sewer.  We've talked about this before.  It's just not for me, or at least not for me at the moment.  However, I do keep a good amount of fabric on hand and every now and then I entertain notions of doing certain sewing things.  Sometimes I even want to embroidery.  Enter the Embroidery Pocket Guide.

Because every now and then I want to embroidery a little bit.

Especially when I wear this dress. Inspiring stuff.
Nothing like a whole sampler, but just a little bit of pretty stitching on something.  A little vine on a tote bag, maybe.  Or a cheerful little flower on a pair of my daughter's shorts.  I have a few needles and a little bit of embroidery floss, and this little guide would be a great reference for a quick freehand project.  This is dadgummed great!

Now, I linked to the e-copy in that first paragraph.  Now here's a link to purchase the hard copy.  And here's a link to the product page on Amazon where you can read some very glowing reviews.  And it's Prime eligible, if you're into free shipping! The hard copy is a fold-out guide of embroidery stitches.  Think of a map.  But a laminated map! There's a chart that even tells you which thread to use with which fabric AND the needles you'll need.  The stitches are separated by category--backstitches, blanket stitches, chain stitches, etc.--and this measures about 4.5" by 8.5".  It really is nearly pocket-sized! It folds up nice and flat, and you could slip it into a pattern book or project bag.  I want to use the section on satin stitches for every little crocheted animal I make!

Goodness knows I should have done some practice eyes before working on this little hat.

I should mention that I was talking to my mom last week about embroidery.  She mentioned that she was going to embroider a dishtowel or two and I mentioned this guide.  You should have seen the look on her face.  I was really glad I didn't have the pamphlet on me at the time or it would be gone right now.  The woman knows when tools are useful and when they're not.  The way her eyes lit up at the mention of the pocket guide really drove it home to me how handy this is.  So I'm going to put it to good use!

Before she does.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Bright Basket Weave Blanket

I knitted the Basket Weave pattern from Car Seat Blankets.  It's every bit as precious as I'd hoped it would be.

I knitted this almost exactly as the instructions told me to.  Modifications are my second nature, but I followed this almost to the very letter of the law.  I changed the colors, but everyone changes the colors (right? Right?!!).  And I skipped a pattern repeat because this seemed big enough for a little car seat blanket.  Other than that, I stayed faithful to the instructions.  Worsted weight yarn.  Four colors. #8 needles.  Weaving in all those ends.

The basket weave patterning is lovely.  I think it might have been just as lovely in only one color, but it's a little late for that now.  It's fine.  I wove in my ends on a car trip, and now it's done and I survived.  It's a lovely little lovey and I hope it's well-received and well-loved. 

I had a great time making it.  Car seat blankets are smaller than your standard baby blanket.  You could wrap one around a small baby if you really needed to, but they're really made to cover up a little person in a car seat.  You can't buckle a bundled up baby into a car seat, but throwing a blanket over some little legs to keep away cold or rain is still safe and wholesome and cozy.  And since it's a smaller blanket, it knits up pretty quickly!  It's a simple stitch pattern that's pretty easy to memorize and the finished product is delightful.

I love this little blanket.  I love the look of the basket weave.  I love the stripes.  I love the garter stitch border.  It's a great baby blanket, and a great pattern, and I know I'm going to make it again.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

16 Reasons to Appreciate Crochet This Fall

Crochet is the way to go when keeping warm! I made a 15 Knits blog post a few weeks ago, and I thought I should also do a post for crochet. 

Here are 16 different things you can crochet to keep warm. 

Leg Warmers:
Leg warmers are a unique way to dress-up an outfit, to wear on the way to or from a workout, or just around the house. They always seem to come back in style, and are especially cute on babies! 

Ravelry: Bonita Patterns
Celebrity Baby Fashion 
Ravelry: Mon Petit Violon

Although it might not be true that we loose 80% of our heat through our heads (WebMD), no one can deny the warmness of wearing a good hat. Crochet hats are perfect for the job. Check out Celebrity Slouchy Beanies for the Family!

Hopeful Honey
Ravelry: Jessica Lee

Boot Cuffs:
Rather than having to wear a bulky boot sock. Try boot cuffs that just sit at the top of the boot. This creates a cute layered look, or a pop of color. 

Ravlery: Kim Handzo 
Ravelry: Silvermoon Creations
Boot Cuffs and Ear Warmers

Head Wraps:
Another way to keep your head warm--aside from hats. Head wraps are some of the most popular crochet patterns. I see them everywhere! 

Ravelry: Shana Galbraith
Etsy: crochetgallery
Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps

"Scoodies" (Scarf Hoodies):
Scoodies are another name for scarves with hoods. A step-up from the regular scarf to something that will also keep your head warm. Something new to try this winter. Check out Hooded Scarves Book 2!

Ravelry: Melissa Grice
Ravelry: Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby
Ravelry: Heidi May

Bulky Cowls: 
My favorite way to stay warm in the winter. Big bulky scarves are in this winter so, crocheters stock up! 

Etsy: Ozetta
Crocheting a Cowl of Many Colors

Thanks for reading! Have fun crocheting the rest of the summer away.

Stay crafty!


Friday, August 22, 2014

A Lovely Cottony Cowl


It's finished!  The cowl pattern from the Textured Set in Hats & Scarves is a textured, cottony dream come true. 

 Okay, the pattern doesn't call for cotton yarn.  But I felt like it and I'm happy with how that turned out.  Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic yarn already has a very nubby feel to it, and the cowl pattern's mix of single and double crochet stitches made this extra super textured.  It's a lovely thing.

The yarn is Aran weight, which is only slightly bigger than the worsted weight the pattern calls for, but it feels quite a bit fluffier than your average medium weight wool or acrylic yarn.  I used an I hook, which is a bit bigger than what I would normally use.  I was able to work this up in no time!  I just went until I had used up my two skeins (about 200 yards), and that turned out to be just fine.

See?  It's tall enough to be a disguise!
I will say that the crocheted fabric is a bit dense.  Not stiff, mind you!  But a little dense, which makes sense because I used heavier yarn.  I don't know if I should hang on to it and wear it a while before giving it as a gift to loosen it up a bit or not.  Maybe keeping it for myself would be in everyone's best interest.  This drapes pretty well, though.  Hey, maybe I'll just keep this because I want it. 

This nice little cowl is going to sit in my gift stash for a while, though.  Last year's gift-giving season somehow caught me completely off guard, and I love the feeling of having a fantastic gift stash full of handmade things I can give to anyone at a moment's notice.  I'm a firm believer in making things especially for certain special people, but there's also certainly nothing wrong with making something first because you like the pattern and giving it someone later. 

Just like there's nothing wrong with making something for yourself.  Or so I'm going to be saying if (when?) I move this away from my gift stash and into my closet.

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