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Friday, August 1, 2014

Weekly Dishcloth: Crocheting the Offset Knot Stitch Dishcloth. Properly.

I crocheted the Offset Knot Stitch Dishcloth pattern from Crochet Textures for Home and Baby!


For real this time.

The pattern calls for Lion Brand Nature's Choice cotton yarn, which is a little bit fluffier than your average worsted weight yarn.  The last time I made this dishcloth, I only had my standard Sugar n' Cream yarn on hand so I made this with a G hook.


But I have some Nature's Choice in my stash, and I thought it would be interesting to try this again.  I loved it the first time around, and I figured another try would be fun.  And it was!

I used a J hook and a little more than half of a skein of Nature's Choice in Walnut. That yarn is so incredibly soft.  And the dishcloth is so big and thick and poofy!


But I don't know if this is actually a good dishcloth.  I've never tried cleaning up with anything made from this yarn before, but it seems a bit too.... fibery.  Does that make sense?  It seems like it would be like trying to scrub something with a cotton ball.  I know the yarn is much stronger than that, but it seems like it's just too soft for using as a dishcloth and I worry about little yarn fragments going all over the place.


I still like this, though.  I can either give this to one of my sisters, because they don't actually use the dishcloths I give them--although they do like them and display them with pride--or I can deem this a hot pad.  Even before I started making this, I thought it might be a hot pad.  Which is kind of great, actually.


I like hot pads, and this seems like a really good one.  The knots give this a lot of height and, of course, texture.  This is incredibly textured!  I would hope that a book called Crochet Texture for Home and Baby would have some very textured crochet patterns, and this is a mighty fine one. 


Even if I don't know what I'll do with this week's dishcloth project, I'm happy with it.  I love this simple pattern.  I'd never worked with this yarn before and that was lovely.  I have to admit that I do like a good hot pad.  And every now and then it feels good to work a pattern just the way I'm supposed to.  Weird, but good.


I hope you have a good weekend and plenty of good luck with your crafting!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

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!



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Crocheting a Bright and Bulky Dream Hat

I'm crocheting the Shells Beanie from Crochet Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps!  It's a bright and bulky dream project.  Even if it does look a little like a hot pad from the 1970s right now.
 
Which is a fine way to look, I must say.
I'm using a J hook and a skein of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Jiffy that I hopes lasts me to the end of this hat.  It's a nice, squishy project with rows and rows of shells.  I love shells.  This is so close to feeling like I'm crocheting a large circular granny square hat that I smile every time I think about it. 

 

I'm halfway through the body now, and I think I can finish this up over the weekend.  I'm not sure if this is going to go straight to my gift stash, or if I'll give this to my sister for her birthday next week.  But someone's going to love it, that's for sure!  It's been a while since I've crocheted a pattern from Crochet Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps, and I'm not sure why.  These patterns are lovely!  Cooler weather is just a couple of months away, and I want to make a few more patterns from this book before fall!  I love a good slouchy hat, and this hat in particular is just too dadgummed cute for me to not make it.  Hats are a great summer project. 

 

Even though this summer has been beautifully not-terrible, I still have a hard time focusing on big cold-weather projects.  I bought the yarn for a sweater a month ago and haven't knitted anything other than a gauge swatch.  My plans for blankets?  Just plans.  All my lofty goals of baby booties and hats?  We don't have to talk about it!  It's summertime and the living's easy!  We're riding high on piles of zucchini and squash and flip flops and long, sunshiny days!  Cold weather crafting is the farthest thing from my mind.  But I know I'll need some warm hats and scarves in my gift stash soon enough. 

 

This great bulky weight project is going to crochet up quickly and cutely.  I'm so happy my spellcheck didn't flag "cutely."  I like that word.  And I like this hat pattern. I can't wait to see it all worked up!


Happy crafting!  And good luck with all of your works-in-progress!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Celebrating Christmas in July with Some Crocheted Stockings!

I couldn't let the whole month of July go by without doing a Christmas in July post! I thought a good project to talk about is the Big Guy stocking pattern from the Treasury of Holiday Crochet.  I love it so much I made it three times!

 

I had made this once before for my little girl, and wanted to make more for our little family.  So now we're all set for this Christmas!  This is a very festive pattern.  It calls for worsted weight yarn, and I used an H hook to get gauge.  What I really like about this pattern is how there's plenty of chances to play around and make modifications.  I left off some of the border work on the cuff because I wanted the top to look a little tidier.  I made the heel and toe a different color for each person--the red is for my little girl, the yellow is for me, and the blue is for my husband because I wanted to personalize the stockings with our favorite colors.

 

And I made the hook a bright green color for my little girl because I like to use bright colors for the projects I make especially for her. 


I also used lighter green yarn on my stocking and my husband's, but that's more of a stash issue than an aesthetic choice.  It's still nice that ours match each other while our daughter's looks a little different.



I've made Christmas stockings for my family before by seaming granny squares into L-shapes before because, well, of course I have.  I love granny squares.  But the stripes and color differences in these stockings make me incredibly happy.  And the stocking itself is incredibly sturdy!  Perfect for holding presents!  Or being worn around the house, which is what happened my daughter saw these out.  I am incredibly excited about the matching stockings we'll have this Christmas! 


I always intend to do far more holiday crafting in the off-months than I do.  It can get a bit tricky on top of working, paying at least a tiny amount of attention to my family, and crafting for the babies that are springing up around me.  But I would like to do it more.  I love Christmas, and crafting, and crafting Christmas things is truly one of my favorite things to do.  I know Christmas in August projects aren't quite as common, but I hope to complete a few more of them anyway and I hope you get the chance to do so, too.  Christmas will be here before you know it!


Happy crafting!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Finishing a Precious Ribbed Blankie

 It's finished!  I finished up the Ribbed Blankie from Precious Knit Blankies for Baby in time to give it to a mother-to-be yesterday afternoon.  It was a hit!

 

I had cast on fewer stitches than the pattern called for (I really wish I remember how many) and bound off long before the pattern called for.  This blanket is 16" X 22", and is more of a little car seat blankie than a full-size blanket.

 

I used Caron One Pound and #8 needles, but I think I could have gone up a needle size or two because  that yarn seems a bit thick for worsted. This little blanket is solid and simple. 


I actually tried crocheting a border around this in bright pink to add some color and detail, but then I took it out.  It didn't look quite right, and this little blanket is fine on its own.

I love giving handmade gifts.  Even when I get a callous on my finger and a permanent cramp in my hand from so much knitting.  Even when I didn't have a chance to run this through a washer and dryer to even out this out a bit.  I know you can't really block acrylic, but a quick wash and run through a dryer can help straighten the stitches out and would help with the bumps that can appear along a bind-off edge. 

 

I'm sure this will look better once its washed in some of that baby detergent and wrapped around a little person. 


Handmade baby gifts always do.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

5 Ways to Spark Creativity

Note from Jen: Hi!  Marie the social media intern is going to start posting on the weekends. Today is her first post!  I'm super excited to have her voice on the blog.  Enjoy!

 

We’ve all been there. You have amazing crafting skills! But, there you sit with either so many ideas you don’t know where to begin, or you have no ideas. The operator in your brain that accesses all your ideas is on vacation.

For me, the problem is I can get a little multi-task-happy when I’m working. For example, right now I’m working on this blog post, watching Netflix, occasionally picking up a crochet project in my lap, playing Jelly Splash on my phone, and watching my cat to make sure she doesn’t get at the cereal I’m having for dinner (it’s the weekend—why not?).  

Did you...


...think I was...


...kidding?

I need some help to funnel my creativity and make sure it doesn’t get away from me when I need it.
I looked all over Pinterest for some advice and I came across all kinds of lists on how to be creative. After picking up on a few themes, I made my own “5 Ways to Spark Creativity” list.

1. Be Positive: If my research taught me anything it’s that this is a very common problem. Getting a perfect idea is the best kind of feeling! It just might take some time to come by. Don’t worry. The world is full of inspiration. I saw tips like: people watch, spend time with children, spend time with a friend, take a hike through nature. 



"You can't use up creativity the more you use,the more you have” 
Maya Angelou

2. Be ok with mistakes: You never know what you do until you try, and you can’t really try without being ok with messing up. For example: entrelac knitting

    I Can't Believe I'm Entrelac Knitting   

It’s daunting. I know my first attempt will be less then impressive. However, once you get through the first attempt you’re home free! Be nice to yourself when you are trying new things, then you will be so much more willing to take on the next skill! I saw tips like: be nice to yourself, try something new, be open-minded. 


3. Pay attention: Get attentive to your thoughts, and help yourself think through them. I saw tips like: Take a notebook everywhere, write down your ideas, brainstorm on a chalk board (or white board—I say chalk board because if you're really crafty it’s likely that you have painted something in your home with chalk board paint), notice the small things in life. 

Brainstorming is great for problem-solving and project-starting! Sometimes I also take time to write down the ideas that will definitely not work. That way my “no way” filter in my brain doesn’t accidentally filter out any good ideas. It also helps you laugh at yourself! Which is fun, because—lets take a moment to appreciate, you’re hilarious.





“Creativity is intelligence having fun” 

– Albert Einstein


4. Change something: This is the most practical thing to do to spark creativity.  Change your surroundings, yourself, your mood, your environment, your mentality. I saw tips like: spend time with someone, turn off screens, clean a corner of your house, take a shower, de-stress, go for a walk outside, play music.



5. Identify the “box” you need to think outside of: I came up with this one on my own, so bear with me. If you are problem-solving make sure you understand the problem or why the thing isn’t working. If you are project-starting, take time to identify: what you have to work with, what you want to accomplish, what attributes does this craft need to accomplish said accomplishment, and how much time do you have. 

Sometimes, when I’m project-starting, it’s even helpful for me to make the box. For example, when starting a knitting project I say something like: “I’m only using these colors” -or-  “I’m definitely making a hat”


So, there you have it. 5 ways to find some creative inspiration. 

Thanks for reading!  


Stay crafty!


-Marie


Friday, July 25, 2014

And That Concludes Baby Week!






I am concluding Baby Week!  The Ribbed Blankie from Precious Knit Blankies for Baby isn't finished yet, but it will be by the end of the weekend.  I've tried out some cute little projects to add to my gift stash, and I had a great time focusing solely on babyness this week.  We'll be back to our regularly scheduled blogging about dishcloths and cowls next week, and I'm looking forward to that.  And!  You should check on the blog over the weekend because there's going to be an extra post!  From somebody else!  I think that's exciting and I think you'll like it.

For now, please enjoy this post from last summer about why I get so worked up about crafting for babies.

"Do you read the Yarn Harlot's blog?  You should.  She's funny and talented and pretty much the Queen of Knitters.  I read her post about knitting superstitions and why we knit what we do and for whom and on and on, and man.  You can go ahead and read it now.  I'll wait. It's fine.

Okay.

I am squarely in the 'knit for babies before they're Earth-side' camp.  I don't think it jinxes anything.  Everything related to having a baby--carrying one, adopting one, or even just knitting for one--is an act of faith.  That's some reckless optimism to think about bringing another person into your life and trusting that this was a good idea.  I think anyone who does that deserves all my enthusiasm and hand-crafting as early as possible.

So with all those baby feelings and stashed yarn in mind, I read the post on Friday morning and thought about it all day.  I have a lot of ongoing projects and other obligations and I have a lot of plans for my impending nephew and most of them haven't been made yet.

I downloaded Knit in a Day for Baby because I had seen pictures of the striped bib and I wanted to make one.


Or maybe several.  Whatever.  Look at how precious this is!  It's a cottony, garter-stitch dream!  Never mind that this baby won't even need a bib for, like, forever.  I wanted to make one.

So I did!


There are stripes!

 

And a red button!

 

I like these colors!  I like this pattern!  I like this book!

I meant to print only the pages for the bib pattern, but wound up printing off the whole thing.  That's about 94 pages of quick knitted goodness.  I had already intended to try out several of the other patterns, and now they're right at hand! I plan on trying out a lot of these patterns for my nephew or my daughter--or maybe even both of them!  I have a lot of daydreams about matching outfits.

This little baby is going to have a pile of handmade things waiting on him, and I've got to get on it!


I can't wait to welcome this little guy into the world!" 
 
This post was originally published on August 26, 2013.



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