Saturday, December 31, 2005

Don't, please...Just. Don't.

I decided to browse the Lion Brand website in search of patterns, and I came across this:

This is the Fringed Jeans Embellishment. This costs $15, not counting the jeans. (Not, I hope, that anyone sees this and rushes out to buy a brand new pair of jeans to "embellish.")

I have finally found something worse than endless scarves.

Jean fringe. But not just any jean fringe, oh no! Vertical jean fringe. Because looking like a hippie is so passé. Now we must look like professional wrestlers. Really confused 1980s pro wrestlers who don't realize they're off-duty.

There is also a more conventional Fringed Jean Jacket Embellishment to be had, but it lacks the WWE-brand horror of the pants fringe. Fringe on jackets is, after all, nearly a time-honored tradition if you're a buckle bunny. But this, this is something new and unique.

Actually, a lot of the patterns Lion Brand has to offer are just...just...They want me to make fun of them, right? They're throwing these patterns out there so I can sharpen my woeful humor-writing skills. Please tell me that's it, because if I'm actually supposed to want to buy their yarn and make these things...Nah, can't be.

As I said, though, there are the usual crochet pattern offenders, the ones that make me yearn once again for my grandmother's crochet. You've got the obligatory mangy garment, the skinned Tribble headwarmer, the psuedopatriotic flag-themed junk, the conehead disguise (Make one in white. I dare you.), the perfect hat to wear to your I Love the '90s viewing party, something to ensure your daughter quits speaking to you the moment she turns 18, and of course twenty thousand freaking scarves for those crocheters terrified of ever increasing or decreasing.

But Lion Brand, being a huge yarn company, goes above and beyond the call of duty:
Hairy palms without the fun.
The most passive-aggressive way to break up with your boyfriend, ever.
Proof not all gay men have taste.
Maybe I was wrong about those mittens.
Scarlett had her curtains. You have your bath mat.
Don't worry, no one will find your maxi pads if you hide them in this.
Cheaper than in-patient psychatric treatment.
Truly make granma thankful this ain't her crochet.
At least they got to be stoned the last time this was in style.
Irony: Barbie is ready for her knitting group in her crocheted poncho! You can even make eye pokers, err, I mean knitting needles. Out of Japanese toothpicks.
If that scarf pattern is too confusing...
Encourage coulrophobia.

But for all that, there is one pattern that is worse:

Not only is this hat ugly, this hat is mean. Why? Because it's the Cheery Chemo Cap. As if it's not bad enough to have cancer and lose all your hair, you should now cover it up with this.

For the record, this isn't the first time I've noted the meanness of a hat intended for the less-fortunate. But this strikes close to home, as my mother-in-law was treated for colon cancer this year, and she crochets. Poor Jan, she's got no idea how lucky she is that I love her. 'Cause if I didn't, I could do this to her, and insist that she wear it to show her apprecation!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Mele Kalikimaka

My Crocheted Christmas was a smashing success.

And I even got a new hook for a gift!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

All finished.

I somehow knew I'd be working on this today. I just had to finish up the edging though. I burned a day earlier this week just figuring out how I would do it. I had this pattern in the back of my head all along, but for some reason I tried a whole bunch of other things before breaking down and finding the directions for this pattern. It looks complicated, but it isn't. It actually works up very quickly.

Oh, & I did indeed go back and fix the joining on that last strip on the other blanket.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I'm now certifiable.

So Sunday I was fighting to reclaim Esther's receiving blanket from the older two girls. This is an ongoing struggle. They want the blankets for their "babies"; I want the blankets for my baby.

Suddenly, I had an epiphany. I would make minature afghans for the girls for their babies.

Good idea, right? Right. And then I had to go complicate matters. Not only would I make them miniature afghans, I would use an actual pattern of some sort for the afghans instead of just a quick and dirty DC square. What's more, I would make these afghans for them in time for Christmas.

Yeah, I'm nuts.

Monday morning I dug up a couple of books I have with afghan patterns (usually too time-consuming for me) and started experimenting to see what I could modify easily. I have a copy of Mile-A-Minute Contest Favorites Afghans (don't recall the exact title, but that's got all the words in some order), and I knew what size I wanted to make it and what hook I wanted to use, and I wasted about 90 minutes trying to find a pattern that would go quickly. And I finally wound up pretty much coming up with my own design, just DCs around in a long oval in 3 colors. I just finished it.

I was joining the strips as I went, and it wasn't until I finished with the very last strip that I realized...I put it on backwards. Oy. Usually, I'd let this bother me, but I've got 3 days to adapt another pattern and finish the other mini-afghan, so I'm going to make like a cat & swear up & down that I meant to do it that way. Because of course I did.

Anyway, I do like the way it turned out, in spite of the backwards strip. The colors just work. All Caron Simply Soft. I adore that yarn. And the colors go well together. I'm pretty sure Linda will adore it.

Now, off to do something insane like look up patterns online. See, if I was sane I'd be going to sleep right now. But Esther's asleep and I finally have an excuse to not be crocheting, so I'm going to look at stuff online. Crochet stuff. 'Cause I'm funny like that.

Oh, & I've decided Cerberus will be a poodle.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Not crochet, but I can't resist.

I couldn't take the idea of a "normal" Christmas tree while living in Hawaii (nevermind the Norfolk pines that you see growing here & there; they're not indigenous). So we have the following Christmas tree this year:
Granted, it isa rather pathetic-looking palm tree. But hey, it was $15. Don't mind the crochet magazine on the floor behind it, one of the girls left it there. Hmm, I guess that magazine makes this a crochet-related post after all!

Now, for the terminally bored, a family photo:
It was done rather spur-of-the-moment, which is why I didn't take the time to re-brush my hair. You can sort of tell we had very high winds yesterday, LOL. Poor starveling Esther; she's been reduced to trying to get breastmilk out of Daddy's thumb. The older girls' dresses were made by my mother-in-law. People generally pooh-pooh when I say stuff like that, but what few seem to understand is that the woman is a professional seamstress. And one hell of an intimidating woman when it comes to skills. She's a seamstress, as I said, a rather accomplished crocheter, a pretty good painter, and a good amateur photographer as well. About the only thing I do better is cook. Thank goodness we get along...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Yet another FO.

This is from the latest issue of Crochet! It turned out rather bigger than it was supposed to. I knew it'd be different when I started out, because I had to use a C hook instead of a B (I've no idea where my B hook is right now) & I'm pretty sure the beads are different too. I had to buy cheap ones.

The directions are a bit confusing, but once I figured them out it all moved very fast.

The reason, now that I've distracted myself, that it is so much bigger than I'd intended is that I neglected to account for the weight of the beads stretching the elastic. I made it big enough to encircle my wrist without stretching, but it stretches because of the beads. So I could have done with it being a good two repeats smaller, from the look of things.

I think I'll use the same technique in the future but using thread or hemp cord or something, anythingthat doesn't stretch.

And in the meantime, I'm thinking about making the girls bracelets from this pattern. And I'm fantasizing about other ways to utilize elastic thread in crocheting. And I'm still working on the ruffle for my denim skirt. That's my Christmas present this year, taking time to make some stuff for myself for once.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

First project from The New Crochet

This is the floral choker from The New Crochet, which I first mentioned a couple of days ago. The project advertised itself as "make today, wear tonight" and it certainly was fast. It took about 2 hours start to finish. I made the band last night right before going to bed, and made the flowers tonight while watching the Frosty the Snowman hour on CBS. The pattern calls for silk yarn, but of course I didn't have any, so I just used Red Heart Baby Soft yarn. I'm really appreciative of the way the book gives not only the exact yarn used in the project but the weight. That way it's easier to substitute yarns. I hate it when a book only gives the name brand of the yarn they used for the product. I can't afford most of the yarns named by name, and it's a royal pain sometimes trying to figure out what I might be able to substitute. So this makes things simple, and I like that.

Next project, since I'm effectively done with Christmas gifts: the skirt-embellishment from the same book. I'm thinking it will remain off my skirt until such a time as I can buy a lot more snap tape; I'd really prefer to be able to take it off. I also want to make Bendy's bracelet from Crochet!, but I'll have to make a stop at Wal-Mart for the elastic thread & the proper beads first. That stuff will probably be cheap enough for me to get it this pay period. We'll see.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I am so prolific today!

I made two lei from this book tonight. Toddler-sized. The lei are very simple, except the twisting them into shape thing is a bit annoying. The girls will love them, though. And I'm stupidly happy over having stumbled across a 30-minute project.

The first is hibiscus, the second crepe gardenia. Not in true-to-life colors, but I really didn't want to make yet another green-and-yellow project, and those are the only realistic colors I have on hand.

Poor Annabelle, I really need to dig up some clothes for her. And see about cleaning that crayon off her cheek...


Yet more Christmas gifts:

Using poor Annabel as a model again. These are super-easy & would only take about an hour to do if you sat down & just crocheted. I actually wrote a pattern, though it's so simple it barely merits one. As usual, it's at Crochetville: Very Simple Toddler's Headband.

I'll be making more little stuff to fill up the time between now & Christmas.

That poor has mange...but the "oodles of poodles" scarf will save it!

We get paid at around 7pm the 14th and the last day of the month, 'cause that's when it's payday on the East Coast. So there are some comforts to living in the most isolated population center on the planet.

We were gonna go to California Pizza Kitchen to eat, but Christmas shopping traffic was nasty. It seriously took us twenty minutes to travel one block, and this was at 8pm, an hour away from the mall's closing time! Well, Rob & I don't like people enough to deal with large crowds, so once we managed to inch our way up to the driveway to go to Barnes & Noble, we turned & parked and went in. God, I love payday.

I bought Crochet! magazine, a book called The New Crochet, and the latest copy of Mothering (which explains lots about my parenting style, but zip about my politics). And so, of course, I must now make fun of the patterns.

I have to come out squarely on the side of disliking Crochet!'s new look, at least vis á vis their decision to go the starving model route instead of the actual human route. Poor things, I hope they were paid with a hot meal. A hot meal and makeup remover.

And then...And then, you have the patterns.

The Editor's Choice is the Kimono Coat. OK, this is a kimono. This is the kimono coat:
I apologize for the poor quality; I couldn't find it on the magazine's website, & I don't have a scanner, so I was forced to take a photo with the flash off (shiny paper) & then adjust the photo. Trust me, though, you are much better off not seeing the colors.
Now, if you click the link, or just bring to mind the last commercial for Memoirs of a Geisha you've seen, you will immediately grasp the first problem with this "coat." It looks nothing like a kimono. There's that odd collar, for starters, and then the cuffs, which are thankfully hard to see in the photo. So it fails the kimono test. Also, it has no closures. No zipper, no buttons, nada. So it fails the coat test. That, & it's fugly.

But wait! It gets better! Turn the page from the directions for thatmonstrosity, and you see...A poncho. Whew, so glad we're not dealing in Grandma's crochet anymore! Why, we've moved up a whole generation, to Mama's crochet! The poncho draws my usual complaint about stuff from the '70s. We just don't have the access to drugs they had back then! Ponchos and "Afternoon Delight" are übergroovy if you're stoned out of your melon, (Which, for the record, it looks like that model is. What do hungry supermodels do when they get the munchies?) not so much so when sober.

But wait! Yet again, it gets better! Turn the page again, and gaze upon the masterpiece that is the "Ribbon-Weave Scarf." Not that it's big enough to actually wrap around your neck. Not that it's attractive enough to actually drape over your shoulders. But hey, at least it gives a use for that pesky ribbon yarn that always seems to kink up on itself! (The hungry supermodel for this project also looks supremely irritated. Even shecan't believe how dumb a project this is.)

But the best is yet to come. Because on page 24, we get this:
I know! I want to make something fuzzy! But not completely fuzzy. No, that would just be tacky. I know, tufts! Regularly spaced tufts of fur! Regularly spaced tufts of fur with random specks of color in them. Poor thing. It needs some of this.

All the other patterns pale in comparison to this jacket. Even the cropped, long-sleeved sweater.

Thankfully, we still have The New Crochet. No "fussy doilies" here, no ma'am! Who needs doilies when you have the Oodles of Poodles scarf?
Now, isn't that much better than a doily? Note, please, that the fuzzy black thing around her neck is part of the scarf, and so are the odd dangly things. As for the model...Well, doesn't she just look like she is someone's grandmother? And doesn't she just look like she's thinking, "My, how far crochet has come since my day, when all we knew how to make were fussy doilies!"

The book describes the scarf thusly:
"The combination of soft, black fuzzy yarn and variegated pinks evokes a vision of a 1950's poodle skirt, but with a contemporary twist."

Eh? That scarf evokes this? Really? Um, OK. If by poodle skirt you mean disemboweled mink, then I suppose they're right.

That's OK, there's always this:
Odd how both this model and the other one look as if they are merely tolerating their clothing.

This, by the way, is the "Silk Meringue Bolero." Because even yeti deserve fashionable cover-ups.

Now, lest you think I am insane for spending $25 of my (er, Rob's) hard-earned money on a book I hate, let me reassure you I find 90% of the patterns in it to be just lovely. There's one floral choker that I am absolutely drooling to make, even though I do not have the neck to wear it, and the cover project is just stunning.

It's just...Have you ever noticed that whenever a crochet publication proudly proclaims its modernity, you're assailed with oddities like these? We wound up at the Spaghetti Factory for dinner last night, and the table had this doily of sorts on it...It was a circle of velvet with a thread-crochet edging. Very pretty. Obviously fairly complicated (you try crocheting into velvet some time!). Obviously fairly old. Obviously a cut above a lot of what's touted as "new and now" in crochet.

Again, gimme Granma's crochet, please!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Oh, enough with the scarves already!

I don't remember what my first crochet project was. I was 11 when I learned how to crochet, and I did so only sporadically for the longest time. Knowing me, it was something for one of my Barbie dolls (I used to make them clothing out of plastic bags, even).

But I do know it wasn't a scarf.

What is it with scarves, anyway? Yes, they're incredibly simple. Which I suppose is it. But it seems as if there are a lot of people out there who pick up crocheting (and knitting) only to the extent that they are able to make scarves. C'mon, have some faith in yourself! Do something that requires a little effort. Gah, my own mother cannot make head nor tails of 99% of the patterns out there, but even she can make afghans!

I've got a story for you. I was talking about crochet with my mother-in-law the last time we were home. Crochet was real big in the seventies. She taught this one lady how to crochet...Know what the gal's first project was? Not a scarf! Her first project was a pantsuit. That she designed herself. Now, that takes cojones!

I was browsing the yarn in Ben Franklin Crafts the other day and happened to overhear the conversation between two women. OK, it was more of a monologue. "You can take this yarn, and this yarn, and you can make a scarf. Or you could use this yarn, and make a scarf. You can make a lot of scarves."

Well, yes, you can. But who in her right mind wears a scarf in Hawaii? Brr, it's dipping down below eighty degrees at night, you better break out the scarves, Tutu. Sigh.

You want something easy? Buy this book: Fancy Hawaiian Lei in Crochet. Very few of the patterns require anything more complicated than single crochet and chain stitches. You learn crochet wit local kine patterns! (I love this book. Haven't had the opportunity to make anything from it yet, since I'm still working on Christmas gifts, but I leaf through it every night before bed and sigh happily.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Done with the eBay dolls.

I'd originally intended to fix up all four of the Cabbage Patch Kids I bought off of eBay, but I decided I really don't like two of them (note to self: read each auction twice, at least before bidding to make sure you catch every detail), so I'm ending that idea with this doll. I'll take two of the dolls they already have and make Christmas presents of new outfits for those dolls.

They're in no danger of dying of a lack of Cabbage Patch Kids, of course. They'll have these two, and we bought a new set of CPK twin babies (similar to these), and then the new outfits on another two. I think six dolls overall is good, don't you? LOL

I have an idea for my next sculpture crochet project. Cerberus. I must confess I was watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (can someone explain to me why it was decided Americans couldn't grasp the concept of the Philosopher's Stone?) when I came to this decision. I am not making Fluffy, however. It will be as much my own concept as I can manage. While the movies are entertaining enough, the one time I actually tried reading a Harry Potter book...Well, let's just say I start wanting to hurt people when they put JK Rowling on the same level as Tolkein or Lewis when it comes to great British writers.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Something about Cabbage Patch Kids and Crochet...

They just seem to go together, don't they? I just finished this for the girls for Christmas:
It's a little CPK baby boy I bought off eBay (I have a couple of others I got at the same time). I've been taking way too long to make this outfit, but I think it turned out well. Since it's a secondhand doll, it's well-loved and so there are a couple of stains. So I had to make long pants and a long-sleeved shirt instead of a t-shirt and shorts as would have been my first impulse.

I'm glad I had to make this, though. It turned out so cute! I finished up the straps of the overalls this morning, and then buckled my butt down and got the shirt done in about an hour--longer if you count the time I had to stop to nurse Esther.

This is some baby yarn I had lying around unworked because, while it's incredibly cute, it's just too rough for a real baby. But it's not too rough for a baby doll. My next project is a dress for a larger CPK doll, and I'll be using up some pink yarn very similar to this blue, and more of the white too. If I have time before Christmas I'll go back & make booties, but I just really wanted to get this done!

And on that note, I need to get away from my computer and go make breakfast. It's half past eleven here, and I'm half-starved because I put off breakfast to make this. (Don't worry about the girls, I always feed them first thing upon waking.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Well, then.

So, I made this really cute dress for Esther before she was born:
Adorable, isn't it? I based it off a pattern in this book. Took a lot of care to make sure it matched the measurements and everything. I wanted my new baby, should my new baby be a girl, to be able to wear it. I had a brief fantasy of having a group portrait made of the girls, with Bobbie and Linda in their big sister outfits, and the new munchkin in this.

And then, I had Esther. Wonderful, adorable, cuter-than-cute Esther. Eight pound, 0.1 oz Esther. Twenty-point-five inches long Esther. A full two pounds heavier and almost an inch longer than my previous biggest baby.

And this is the end result of that:
This was actually taken today, so it's worse than when I first tried it on her about a week ago. Between her being big to begin with and me misplacing the blasted dress, if there was ever a window for her to wear it, it closed before she could wear it.

I had to sew snap tape on the crotch to finish it up. I wanted to take it to the hospital with me so I could do that right after she was born, but I couldn't find the blasted thing. Well, when I finally located both snap tape & dress at the same time, I finished it up and put it on my daughter, so happy she'd get to wear it.

And it wouldn't snap. It's big enough around, but it's not close to being long enough. Dammit.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I would give you the sun, the moon, and the stars...

One guess which of these was easiest.

The sun is just a simple circle. It took almost no time at all.

The star was pretty hard. It's not simple to come up with something that looks more like a star than a pentagon. I wound up stacking slip stitches on top of each other, and the increases at the "points" are Hdc, Tr, Hdc. The filler stitches are Hdcs.

The moon was pretty simple once I figured out how to do it. It's just figuring out how that was the problem. For a half-circle, you increase just like you do for a circle, but in rows instead of rounds. It will sort of fall into the proper shape. But I needed something more exaggerated. I started out trying to crochet it in rows from tip to tip, but doing it sideways turned out to be easier. At either end I put 3 sts in the previous st (I was doing 1 row Sc then one Hdc), and in the center I increased evenly as if I was making a half-circle. Once it attained the shape I wanted, I worked even for two rows.

The colors in the photo are a tiny bit off; the sun actually has green around it instead of the blue it looks like.

They've all got big chain stitch loops encircling them so they'll be easy to hold. Of course, Esther will be not quite two months old by the time Christmas rolls around, so it'll really be a while til she can play with them at all. She's still in the looking at stuff stage. I just might tie them to the mobile in her swing so she can be entertained that way.

I'm just about done with Christmas stuff; I just need to make Cabbage Patch Kid clothes now.