Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bobbie's Sweater

I actually finished this about a month ago, but haven't had a chance to post photos for it yet. So here ya go:
Cute, eh? The stripe pattern is modified from one of Candi Jensen's, but other than that it's 100% original work.

I had originally intended to make her sleeves in the same stitch pattern as the body of the sweater, but it was taking far too long, so I frogged it in the interest of time. (And yes! it gets cold enough in Texas to need a sweater like this. Geez, people!) I did the sleeves and collar in two days and rushed the collar through right before going to work so she could wear it that day.

But I didn't like the collar, so the very next day I frogged it & replaced it with this:

It's now almost a turtleneck. Two rows of HDC (one to establish the neckline, one to decrease its size some) and then several rows of a rib stitch comprised of 1FPDC followed by 1BPDC. Smaller hook too. She can wear it without a shirt under it now without worrying about it falling off one shoulder.

I got the usual comments about "working up the courage" to crochet a sweater when I showed this off at MamaDrama, so my current project is to make a tutorial on sweater-making while making a sweater for Linda. So look for that within the next few weeks. It's really ridiculously easy to make a sweater.

Oh, before I forget, the specifics:
yarn~ Caron's Simply Soft
hook~ H for the body & sleeves, F for the collar

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Of course, it is just barely still Christmas here, and for those of you already on the East Coast it's Boxing Day already. (No, I don't celebrate it, I just read far too many Regencies as a child.)

Here is my contribution to Christmas crochet, a project which occupied way more of my time than it should have:

I crocheted all the ornaments for my tree this year.

The reason behind this is rather odd, which is typical for me.

I had never before gone out on Black Friday, but this past day after Thanksgiving I actually did.

Some issues with an overheating van prompted me to stop at Home Depot for a cool-down, and I decided this meant I needed to buy a tree.

I found this adorable little potted tree there and had to have it. I am odd in that I prefer small Christmas trees to large ones. A carry-over from my childhood when we just couldn't afford the bigger ones, I guess.

Anyay, I bought this one and brought it home and decided I wanted to have it decorated by the time Robert got home from work. I confidently opened up the box marked 'X-Mas Decorations'...only to find nothing more than a few strands of lights and a jingle-bell wreath.


So I grabbed the materials I always dohave to hand, and set about crocheting the popcorn garland. Then I made a couple of balls and a couple of spirals.

The project grew from there. I decided to make a snowman. Then I knew I had to make other stuff too, so I set about finding stuff to make.

But, since I can't let anything be easy, I set myself some simple guidelines. Number one: no novelty yarns. It would have been all too easy to use up some of the fizzy furry stuff I have sitting around to make interesting ornaments. But I wanted to stick to the plain Jane stuff. Most of what is there is actually worsted weight too. Number two: only use my F and E hooks. I hate small hooks, and I rarelyuse anything smaller than a G. So I set out to do something different here. I think this is mainly because the first hook I found was an F. Number three: no patterns. It was OK to look at pattern pictures for ideas, but I had to figure out how to do it on my own. Number four: whenever possible, use HDC. My favorite stitch.

Close-ups of some of my favorite ornaments (and I apologize in advance for the poor quality of these photos):

C'mon, you know this had to be there. Self-explanatory. Texas flag. Crocheted sideways to make it easy, using a vague intarsia technique for the red and white stripes. (I wanted to work them at the same time & make sure they were connected.) The star is simply embroidered on it, of course.

This picture frame was a royal pain in the rear end to make, and I am not thrilled about the final product. The picture is only somewhat secure in there. This is really just an excuse to put a picture of my girls up on my blog.
I'd re-take this picture, but I am far too lazy. I hung the cross backwards in this picture. There is actually a very nice slipstitched green border on the front of the ornament. The overall effect is reminiscent of a stained-glass window, or so I like to tell myself.

Of course, it strikes me as a bit macabre to have a reminder of Jesus's death displayed for the holiday celebrating His birth, but I was doubtful of my ability to crochet a manger. (I think I will save the crocheted creche for next year.)

This was requested by my husband. He works for Roto Rooter now, and this is my first iteration of the Roto Rooter emblem. It's not very good, but it is recognizable as the subject at least.

By the way, the Roto Rooter guys are authorized to work on gas lines. Surprised me. My husband is in training and thus far seems to have spent as much of his time unclogging drains in the city zoo as anything else. But I digress.

This is my favorite:
Miniature sweater. I got the idea here, but that one is knitted. I have such a short attention span and this in particular really played right into that. I think it took about a half-hour's work, total. I may need to get into miniature crochet some more.

That is all for now, Merry Christmas to everyone out in the blogosphere, and hot coffee vibes to all my fellow Episcopalians. For those of you who are Christian, especially my fellow Protestants, spend some time this busy holiday season thinking about Mary and the huge sacrifice she so willingly made. We tend not to give her the credit she is due.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Book: Crochet Squared

I love this book. Indeed I do. I bought it about three or four weeks ago, or rather made my hubby buy it for me, because I've been once again fascinated by the idea of modular crochet, and the entire idea of this book is that you use two stitches (chain and single crochet) and two shapes (squares & rectangles) to create a number of garments.

Of course, I am not enamoured of scarves, or ponchos, and this pushes my "stupid invented names for everyday stuff" (is 'shrawl' really a necessary part of anyone's vocabulary?) buttons. But it is, at it's heart an excellent description of a fascinating technique.

So last week I decided I'd blog about this book, and I went on to to swipe an image for it. Which you can see that I've done here. While there I came across the reviews. A good many people apparently bought this book because the author is black.

My bad. I didn't realize what hue the author's skin was until actually the day last week that I decided to write about it here. I know how to crochet already, so I tend to skip past the front section of a book if that's where the how-to stuff is. I was bored at work, though, so I decided to read through the front section, and it was only then that I noticed the author was black. Far be it from me to give a darn what the ethnicity of a book's author is. (Sometimes, gasp, I even read books written by liberals.)

But this review in particular has caused me to invent a new rule. First the review, then the rule:
I bought this book primarily because it's by an African American author--I rarely see people like me crocheting, let alone, publishing a book. I also bought this book because I thought it'd have some innovative techniques I was not privy to.
Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with my purchase. I love Ms. Polk's yarn selections, but they are not cheap and you need a lot to make most items featured in the book. Also, it takes forever to make her items since she only uses about two small stitches, particularly single crochet. Granted she uses oversized hooks for some of her projects, many crocheters might have trouble finding these hooks. Also, I tried her scarf pattern but was confused because the stitches look elongated, but she does not say she's elongating--just using a size S or T hook. I used both of mine and did not get the same effect she did. Some of her patterns also are a little hard to begin, as if the author assumes readers know what to do.
Once again, I feel deflated by the crochet/literary world. No wonder I turn to knitting books and magazines, and adapt the patterns into crochet.

OK, now for the rule. If you buy a book 'cause the author is black, then that damn well better be the basis for your review. Don't say "I bought the book primarily because the author is black, but I don't like the techniques in it." Uh-uh. If you're gonna buy the book because the author's skin tone matches yours, then review it on that basis. If you buy a book 'cause the author's black, then your review ought to read "This book's author is indeed a dark-skinned woman! Woo! Great book!" If you want to be a grownup and buy a book because of its content rather than its author's color, then review it on its content. (Geez, where have I heard this content rather than color stuff before?) But if you buy a book just because the author looks a certain way, then review the book on that basis.

Sheesh. It's like buying a book just because Sean Hannity is on the back cover and then complaining that his sentence structure sucks.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I made a doily! A DOILY!

I don't do thread crochet. Nothing against it per se, just that it is in such small scale it generally takes forever and I honestly find it a pain.

So, much as I like doilies, I've not made any until now.

Some time ago, it occurred to me that I could simply follow the pattern, but with hook and yarn of my choice. This idea first came to me several years ago--and yeah, I realize it's nothing unique to me--but I forgot about it for whatever reason. Then it came up again, but I spent some time finding the "right" doily pattern. I still want to blow up a very large, involved doily into a throw for my friend Mark's apartment, 'cause his pad is funky like that, but I've had to go for instant gratification first:
This is from the book 24-Hour Crochet Projects, which I have checked out of the library. I seriously must now own this book. This is the "Diamonds in the Square" doily. I only deviated from the pattern a bit. (I still need to block it & weave in the ends, I know.)

I used a 3.5mm hook (much larger than the 1.5mm called for, but still quite small for me) & Bernat Be My Baby cotton yarn, which someone gave my mother & she then gave me.

This motif would make a really cute bedspread for a little girl, I think.

I am even more of a fan of Lady Linoleum's than I have been, now that I am working again. How that woman manages to stay so creative--and so prolific!--whilst working in the Cube Farm...! I am in awe. To be fair to myself, though, the Lady's offspring looks quite weaned, & I am spending my breaks & lunch attached to a breast pump for the benefit of my little Ro-Bear.

So I am still crocheting, but slowly. I have reluctantly given up on NaNoWriMo, because my schedule is just too hectic for me to catch up (I fell behind without realizing it, because their little word count widget screwed up). I am still going to complete that novel one of these days, though! Thanks to NaNo, I've gotten a lot farther than ever before. But that has nothing to do with crochet. This does:
This is going to be a shrug for my eldest. She's quite excited about it. I originally started doing it in track stitch, which is simply 4 rows of single crochet and one row of treble crochet, and very nice looking, but it was a bit too big when I wrapped it around her arm (I want a fairly snug fit) and so I frogged it. When I restarted I wanted something that would go faster than the track stitch, so I came up with this. It is quite simple, just 11 dcs, a 5dc shell, then another 11 dcs.

I couldn't get a good photo of it with the flash on, so though you can't really tell I'll enlighten you that it's Caron Simply Soft in Off White & I'm using an H hook. Basic work is good. I wanted just a little tiny bit of fancy in there, but simple enough that, like I said, it'll work up quickly. So far so good, though I'm not even up one arm yet.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In Progress: LetterBaby Jacket

I decided to make Esther Ro a jacket for her birthday. Probably should have decided this much sooner than about 3 days in advance. Her birthday was over a week ago, & I am still working on it. Oh well, we're having temps in the low 80s during the days anyhow.

Still, as I've been updating so infrequently lately, I thought I'd share a picture of it in progress:
I decided to call it the "LetterBaby Jacket" because, as you can see, it is vaguely modeled off a high school letterman jacket. This is mainly because I didn't think I had enough of the purple yarn (yes, that's purple; my flash did funny things with the color) to make the sleeves as well. So I decided to do this. I probably do have enough yarn after all, but I'm paranoid. I'll make a hat or something with the rest. For one of the older girls who will actually allow a hat to rest on her head, that is.

This is obviously a very simple design, with minimal shaping (decreases on every other row of the front neckline only). It still needs, obviously, sleeves, a collar, & a button/snap placket (havent' decided which to use yet). But I took the time out to crochet a little E. The yarn is a bulky version of Caron's Simply Soft which I don't remember the exact name of, the hook is J, and the stitch plain ol' HDC (except the E, which of course is done in SC).

But I just couldn't let her birthday pass by without somethinghand-crocheted, so I went to Big Lots (which I now worship, by the way) and bought more yarn out of the Amazing Dollar Yarn Display, and made Esther a hat for her birthday:
As you can tell, she likes Fun Fur about as much as I do. I had to have someone hold it on her head (I think that's Jon Jr, coz Maggie's kid) to get a picture, but I do have a couple of cute video clips of her yanking it off her head & throwing it on the floor. What she is holding in her hands, if you can see it, is a box of tights, which proved to be the most-loved gift of the evening. The box, that is, not the tights. She spent most of the night gnawing on the box of tights, even threw down her cake to chew on it instead.

(The Fun Fur hat is also partially the result of my joke to my supervisor at work that I was going to make Her Baldness a wig for her birthday.)

Today's photos, by the way, are brought to you by Image Enhance. It's actually free, rather than just a trail version or a limited-use version or some other such nonsense. It is quite simple to use. I don't know how good it is at editing photos, but it works quite well for resizing them, which is really all I need it to do right now. The only thing is that it defaults to saving them as bitmaps even if they're orginally JPGs. So watch that, since a lot of photo hosting places won't work with BMPs.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Awash in UFOs.

I swear to you, I am still here. :-)

I keep starting things, and then getting confused/burnt out/bored and wandering off to do something else.

No excuse. My cousin just learned how to crochet & she's crankin' stuff out left & right. Made my baby a scarf for her birthday even.

I'm working on a sweater for Esther right now. I'm feeling the itch to get back to sculpture crochet soon, but I'm not sure what to make.

I am working out of the home now, too, so I have had more time sucked from me. I pump milk during my breaks. I am bound & determined to buy a hands-free breast pump so that I can crochet and lactate at the same time.

Hmm...perhaps I will make a breast...Wouldn't that be fun to explain to my supervisor?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Proud of my cousin.

My cousin Margaret decided she wanted to learn how to crochet. Since we're both southpaws, she asked me to teach her. I'm not great at teaching, but I was able to show her how to single crochet, and this was the result:
Cute, huh? She made her daughter a little purse. It's not the most perfect crochet I have ever seen, but I'm still mightily impressed. I mean, it's not a scarf. It's something she came up with the idea for all on her own, and she figured out how to do it with essentially no help from me.

I bought her I Taught Myself How to Crochet, the kit that has been around at least the past 15 or so years, because I used it back in the day. So hopefully it will work for her as it did for me, and if not we now live in the same trailer park (Yes! I am true to my roots!), so she can easily come to find me whenever she needs help.

In other news, I've shelved the skirt I was working on for myself. Mainly on account of the fact that my husband put it up somewhere & I've no idea what he did with it. You'd think he'd put it with the rest of my yarn & WIPs, but no.

I am also working on an outfit for Margaret's daughter, Cheyenne. She picked out her own yarn, the Bernat baby yarn that's supposed to stripe up. Damned if I can figure out how to get it to make neat stripes, though. I am making sure to use the hook the label mentions, and I have gone so far as to fold in half the length of pink I'm working with in half so I can hopefully get two rounds out of it, and nada. It's driving me nuts.

In other yarn news, Big Lots has some pretty nice yarn--again, Bernat--on sale for a dollar a skein. I am now the proud possessor of 12 skeins (four each of 3 different yarns) of this magical dollar yarn. It's nice too. I don't recall the name of most of it, but it's acrylic/mohair/angora, a nice fuzzy yarn. I have baby sweater plans for it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Yarn Haul

In the past two weeks, I've bought 20 skeins of TLC Cotton Plus yarn for $20. Total. That's a buck a skein, for those slow in math.

Where did I come across this bounty? Texas Thrift & Dollar Stores. So anyone who reads this who happens to be in the San Antonio area, it's worth a trip if you really like red, green, or yellow. Those being the 3 colors they have. I have only red & green. And no, I'm not making a Christmas afghan. I'm making this:
This, of course, is the Citrine Skirt from the Fall 2006 issue of Interweave Crochet. Designed by Annie Modesitt, who of course has some great designs for someone who identifies herself as a knitter.

I of course, am not making the skirt in the yarn called for, and therefore it will be single-colored & not striped. I'm probably violating the entire purpose of the pattern by not using that particular yarn, but oh well. I don't like orange (it's one of those colors I seriously think no one looks good in, though I've been told I do), and I don't like stripes.

What I do like is that this pattern actually comes in my size. I am making the biggest size, since the pattern says it's to sit low on the waist. I'm very appreciative of the fact that it comes in my size, as so few crochet patterns do (I wear a 16/18, which is an XL or 2X depending on the brand). I am even more appreciative of the fact that it comes in a variety of lengths. Though I do like long skirts--and am, in fact, making mine to be about ankle length--I am nevertheless quite short, so ankle length on your "average" woman (I put that in quotes because I am 5'5", which is exactly average height for a woman, but all clothes seem to be designed for gals taller than I) is tripping-length for me.

While I am on my list of things I like about the pattern--there is a diagram in the magazine for the bottom part of it, which is kind of confusing.

Still, either there is something wonky in the supply list, or I crochet even more tightly than I thought. The yarn is listed as being #2/Fine & the hook a 3.75mm/F. I am using the Cotton Plus, which the label says is worsted weight (though looking at it I'd guess it's sport weight) and still need a G/4.25 mm hook to obtain the stated gauge. I started with the 3.75mm and then moved up to 4mm before settling on the 4.25mm.

Not that it's really a problem, though. Just an observation. So wish me luck, as I don't tend towards complicated, adult-sized projects often.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Safe & sound in San Antonio

We're home. Most of my stash is still in transit. I've only bought yarn once since moving here. Unemployment does funny things to my YAS (yarn acquiring syndrome). I've only crocheted 2 doll dresses in the time I've been here. I'll check back in when I can, hopefully with some FOs to show off; I'm borrowing coz's computer.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


We are outta here on the 22nd or 23rd of this month (Robert kisses the Navy goodbye at 1400 on the 22nd, but we haven't gotten our flight times yet, so there's a possibility we won't leave until the 23rd). Our household goods are being packed the 21st & 22nd, so I have to have the computer stowed for travel by the 20th. The representative at household goods said that our stuff will take 48 days to get to San Antonio, & that means that shortly there will be a long space between updates.

Moreover, it means that right now I'm packing. We've been here about 18 months, which has led to quite a bit of yarn accumulation. I have a fairly large box packed already, and have only cleaned out the bottom part of one closet. And I'm not taking everything, either. There is some stuff I have tossed.

Packing is an adventure. I am coming across finished objects done with varying levels of skill, and plenty of WIPs. I have packed a disembodied pair of legs, two heads, and several squares that are all the same and quite obviously meant to become something, but I am not quite sure what. Obviously, I would greatly benefit from having taped or pinned a note to my WIPs as I set them aside, listing what the heck I was making & with what hook. It's kind of sad that I had to toss some things because I simply could not make sense of them.

I am also having fun trying to figure out what is good for long-term storage, what I will mail home in advance, and what I will carry with me on the plane. I need to have a small stash on-hand once I get to San Antonio. Though the severance pay is nice, and Rob will be able to collect unemployment, he doesn't yet have a job and so prudence dictates that I not enhance my stash too much while waiting for household goods. So I'll need to have something there with me.

Being home means we'll be geting Esther baptized, and that means I'll need to make her dress. I came across a size 12 months petticoat (at least, I suppose that's what it technically is; it looks like a dress made out of tulle--though not $200 tulle, LOL--with a full skirt). I'll use that as a base for her dress, & I've decided to make a very nontraditional one, moreso even than the ones I made for her sisters. I'm going to make it out of a dark blue pompadour yarn that I have on hand, and I'm thinking a classic pineapple for the skirt, but I just don't know yet.

See, I cannot stop planning new projects, even two weeks from moving 4,000 miles!

Monday, July 31, 2006

FINALLY! The latest sculpture is finished.

I am quite pleased with this. It's my most ambitious sculpture to date. I wish I could list all the yarns that went into it, but I'm honestly not sure what everything is.

The hair (which was worked as part of the head, sort of intarsia) is a mohair yarn I bought years ago; I think it's something from Paton's, but don't quote me on it. The curls were fairly simple corkscrews (done by working multiple DCs into each chain); the difficult thing there was that I used an E hook to keep it from getting too big. (The main part of the head was done with a 4mm hook.) The body is my beloved Caron's Simply Soft, as is the yarn I used to embroider the face (which I am also quite proud of).

The arms & legs were both made with bends in them. The legs were the most difficult because of crocheted-in bends at both knee & heel. I used a technique described in the book Simple Crochet for Cherished Babies; it's how the author makes the heels on the baby slippers in the book. Well, an adaptation thereof.

The shoes are "leaves" crocheted out of a nice tangerine colored TLC Cotton Plus yarn. I used I think a J hook. That same yarn appears in the shawl, along with some scrap Simply Soft (you may remember it from the girls' Easter skirts, LOL). I just held the two together and used, if memory serves, a 9mm hook.

The skirt is some ribbon yarn I bought at the same time I bought the yarn I used for the hair. I haven't been able to successfully use it for anything else. It was kind of expensive, but better it should be used for this than continue to sit in the closet unused!

This is the flower. One of the rare times I've used Fun Fur. The stem is a pipe cleaner wrapped with sport weight yarn from my stash, attached using a bead, then doubled and wrapped again. I was originally going to do a whole armful of flowers, but I've decided it looks better with just one.

I'm going to throw this up on eBay, with a modest reserve, & see what happens, if anything. I'll make sure there's a link here once I'm done listing it.

Here are a few more photos, and a link to a large collage of the sculpture as a work in progress:

Note, if you can see them, the individual fingers & thumb on the hand. They were made as I closed the hand, by slip stitching through two of the previous round's stitches, chaining a little, and then single crocheting down the chains. I thought I'd taken pictures of the arm itself before I attached it to the main body of the sculpture, but I can't find them if I did.

This is the leg. You can see the two bends in this picture pretty well. It was a bit of a challenge getting it to line up properly.

Here's another view of the completed project. I have no further plans to use fringe on any garments, even a shawl. These photos, by the way, were taken outside in the back yard. Yes, we need to take the Weed Eater to it, but it makes for a better picture a little unmanicured.

Work in Progess Ladder. This is just too big to put here. If you follow the progress, you can see that it was kinda frog-like for a while there. I sewed the ankles and then the hands together to get the appropriate posture, another first for me.

And now, the experiment. I have the sculpture listed on eBay. Will it sell? I have truly no idea. I have a fairly high starting bid, and I do have a reserve because I don't want to wind up with it selling for five bucks. I don't really have expectations at this point in time, but it's worth the shot.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Quick & Easy

Got a new copy of Quick and Easy Crochet in the mail the other day & whipped up this little outfit for Ro in a couple of days (but only a few hours' cumulative effort):

Cute, eh? It will serve her well this winter once we're home in Texas. It's Bernat yarn, but I'm not sure exactly what kind. It came in a kit for making a baby blanket (which I never made because the yarn was too much of a pain to work with, and no it wasn't much easier this time around, with greater experience), & the individual skeins are only labeled as Bernat. It's some sort of boucle yarn, though.

The byline for this pattern was D's Zigns. I have no idea who or what that is; if anyone knows please drop me a line. I'd love to contact the designer directly & tell him/her how much I enjoyed this pattern. Many if not most of the patterns in the magazine had the same byline. I did a Google search but wasn't able to find an exact match, and all the D Zigns, D'Zigns & other such variations seem to take me to a variety of web design studios, which somehow I doubt have anything to do with crochet.

I like this issue as much as I did the previous one, by the way, though the dreaded Fun Fur seems to have made an incursion & there's one very strange, ugly poncho too. Overall, though, it's nice, though I question the need for two or three different swimsuit coverups. There's a very neat skirt pattern that I hope to make, some time in the distant future when I'm able to procure sport weight yarn in adult colors.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I had this all typed out yesterday.

I had this all typed out yesterday. I had my finger hovering over the button to select a picture to upload to Blogger...And the browser crashed. Just...closed. I have Firefox, so this doesn't happen very often to begin with, but this was like it just closed on its own. No error message, nothin'.

Of course, I haven't crocheted my browser window. So I need to get to the fiber-y goodness! First off, I have to give another shout out to Lady Linoleum over at Monster Crochet. I had to call my husband over and show him her Bacon Wrap. Sheer genius! Of course, she is probably themost talented crocheter I can think of offhand. I love her stuff. If you had told me it was possible to faithfully create a rasher of bacon in intarsia crochet...Well, I would have believed you, but I'd have wondered why you wanted to do it, and I'd have expected it to be, you know, life sized. There is something so truly bizarre and wonderful about a giant piece of bacon. Wool bacon. A pork product made out of a sheep product!

Moving along...

After that goodness, I am almost embarassed to show off my most recent completed project. I'm still stumbling along with my sculpture. It was more difficult than I thought to crochet a leaf that looks like a leaf and has the right dimensions without curling up upon itself. I wound up having to use a much bigger hook than I'd used for the rest of the project. I'd been using 3.75mm and 3.5mm hooks for most of it. Now that I think of it, though, I think I just used like a 7mm hook for another part. I am sadly prone to forgetting such things if I don't write them down. But it was necessary, because I was using ribbon yarn. I am pleased to report that I've finally successfully crocheted something using ribbon yarn! Strange little things make me happy.

Anyhoo...This is the latest completed project, made for Linda, my middle daughter (she's 2):
It's a simple little outfit for one of Linda's Cabbage Patch Kids. I have the pattern in rough form, I just need to remember where I put it, and then I'll post it on Crochetville. There seems to be an odd shortage of free CPK patterns out there, judging by the requests I keep seeing on the 'Ville.

I'm also thinking about adapting the dress part of the pattern into a shirt for Esther.

This outfit was a little lesson in learning to listen to the yarn. I know that sounds funky. I guess I should say, in letting your subconscious take control. I spent way longer than I should have trying to fancy up the dress. I was going to do a full shell-stitch skirt, but I couldn't get it to come out right, and then I was going to do crossed DCs, and then bobbles and then...Finally I had to go cook dinner. Yarn is fun, but it doesn't feed the children. Sadly, though, if I wasn't breastfeeding I'd probably hole myself up in my room in a yarn-induced stupor and let everyone else fend for themselves. See, breastfeeding really is good for you! LOL

Anyway, the next day I picked it up again, because I'd promised Linda a new outfit for her baby, and if you knew Linda you'd know she can't be deterred. Then again, what 2-year-old can? I finally thought, Oh, heck, I'll just make it plain. Plain DCs. See, I'd planned from the start to put the pattern up on the Ville, and I try to make my patterns simple enough for beginners when I do that. I think a lot of crochet patterns are written just to be confusing, though that is improving somewhat. So I just quit thinking and started working and before too long conceived of the idea to do some BLDCs (actually, since I am left-handed & so tend to work inside out, for me they were FLDCs) so I'd have something on which to anchor a double tier off ruffles.
Of course, that's not the only place I put ruffles. I don't actually care for butt-ruffles on real baby clothes (though we do have one pair of pink ruffle-butt pants that both Linda and Esther have worn), because they seem as if they would be uncomfortable. But I couldn't resist the urge to put ruffles on the undershorts here, though I did manfully (womanfully?) resist the urge to put ruffles around the legholes.

You can see from this picture, too, that I did tie closures. That was for simplicity. Linda has actually managed to yank the clothes off without undoing the ties, and to put the clothes on other dolls (and even, once or twice, back on this one) as well. So the ties aren't an issue. By the way, they're not my usual drawstrings, but extentions of the trim at neckline & waistband. I'm interested to see if this can be successfully adapted for use in actual clothes, say in my daughters' skirts. I'm afraid I will run into the old problem of the weight of the yarn making it too saggy, though.
These are the booties. The photo didn't come out so well on account of the flash, but that's OK. You get the general idea. These were significantly easier than real booties. Real booties require shaping; these are pretty much just tubes. They do have drawstrings; I needed some way to keep them on, however briefly.

The ruffles on these were much easier too, as they were crocheted in the normal part of the stitch, rather than in free loops.

The whole thing was done with a J (6mm) hook and, of course, Caron's Simply Soft. I love that yarn.

And now for this week's Gratuitous Esther Photo. (It was supposed to also be my contribution to Saturday Sky, but that got seriously sidetracked.)

I know, it's not too clear. But I like it that way.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A few things.

This is a really neat effect.

It's called couching. Link to where I StumbledUpon it. (Link to StumbleUpon for Firefox, and if you don't have Firefox yet, why the heck not?)

It's an embroidery technique, a very interesting one wherein you sew over a fiber with thread to attach it to your base fabric in whatever shape pleases you. (There are many more pictures on the STITCH website, I just grabbed my favorite.) Fascinating, no?

Here's a quote on couching:

The main couching stitch uses two threads and two needles. A thicker thread is positioned or 'laid' on top of the fabric and the thinner thread is stitched over it to hold it in place.

I can see this having a deal of use in crocheting as an embellishment, though of course you'd have to be picky with both the couching material and the thread used to hold it down, given of course crochet's innate stretchiness.

I'm envisioning an Afghan-crochet stole with couching decoration on the ends. I really want to make it, but it's obviously a very long-term project, because I've got so much other stuff in the works!

Another shot of my WIP

I know, I know. I'm still being mysterious. I so seldom get a chance to be secretive about anything. I'm truly horrible at it in person. Heck, I have never once, in three kids, been able to spring my pregnancy on my husband as a surprise. (In fact, two out of three times, he was the one to tell me I was pregnant!)

I am actually a bit farther along than is apparent in this photo. I am almost done with the main part of the sculpture itself, in fact. One might say, 3/5ths of the way done. I didn't work on it much at all yesterday. I started to, but was having too much trouble with it, so I put it down and started on yet another project. Heh. I really need to finish some of the ones I'm already working on!

A la Drew

I don't usually jump on the blogging bandwagon, but this one I can't resist. Saturday Sky. See Drew's blog for more info and a link to the originator of the idea (I'm too lazy to do it myself). See my sky:
This is my backyard, which I put first because it's actually viewable from my desk. Well, were it not for the blinds covering the sliding door, or the canopy (whose edge you see in the photo) otherwise blocking my view.

Here's the view from the front lanai:
You can see somewhat the glory that is post WWII military housing.

Once upon a time, there was a discussion on MomsWhoThink about a member's upcoming trip to O'ahu. "Be sure you go see Pearl Harbor!" was the comment.

I almost hurt myself laughing. It's a common misconception, but I'm really not sure what people expect. (I actually liken the belief that you can go see "Pearl Harbor" to the one that afflicts my hometown that the Alamo is some massive compound out in the countryside.) Let me set y'all straight. There is such a thing as Pearl Harbor. It is very important to the Navy even now. It is not something that you tour. It's a shipyard and a Navy base. They don't allow on any civilians who don't work there. And even if they did, and you went on the base, it would bore you senseless unless you're really into steam pipes and large pieces of ordnance used as lawn ornaments. (Which I am. But that's another topic for another blog.)

Still, this is my sky. Purty, ain't it? It's Hawaii, the sky is always blue. Except for those 43 days earlier this year. And the day of the craft fair. But hey, we haven't dumped raw sewage into the ocean for months now! Come see!

Saving the best for last

This week's Gratuitous Esther Photo:
Isn't she cute? That's Linda's Halloween cat ears I crocheted, put on her just so I'd have an excuse to put another photo of her in a crochet blog. As you can see, she loves having her picture taken, just like the other two do. (This photo reminds me of another long-term project: a cover for that hideous Boppy in the background.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

WIP Wednesday

I am almost done with this particular sculpture. I want to show it for my Work-in-Progress Wednesday post, but I don't want to reveal it ahead of time. So you get an odd-angle shot.

I can't say a whole lot about it without giving it away, but I will tell you this is the top. The pinkish-red part is yarn I bought so long ago I don't remember what it is (no clue what happened to the label), but I do believe it involves mohair somehow. I think this because it's scratchy on my stomach, but fine enough a form of wool that it's not scratchy on my fingers. I used an E hook to make these spirals, and it was painful & slow-going. But necessary for the overall project.

I'm still working on Smoochie's sweater, too, but I put it aside for this project. I just haven't made any sculpture crochet in such a long time. I felt the need to get back to it. The sweater will wait; whether I'm done with it by the time we get back to Texas or not, it won't be needed til October or November at the earliest.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ooh, sparkly.

For the record, no, I didn't intend to make another post today. But I made up this bracelet on a whim & so have to show it off:
Isn't it purty? I know, I know, the picture's not too good. But when the only problem I have with a project is the way the photograph of it turned out, I know I'm doin' alright. (Dig my engagement ring too; nothing so boring as a diamond for this girl's best friend!)

The really cool thing about this? OK, there are two cool things. First is that I did the whole thing, from idea to completion, in less than 2 hours, while watching Monster Garage (though not paying much attention) and with about a 30 minute break to nurse Esther.

Second cool thing? The approximate material cost for this little bracelet is less than a dollar. Yep, you read that right. One buck. It's only an estimate, unfortunately. I actually had all the stuff on hand; have since before Esther was born. But the price on the bead package was 59 cents, and the floss typically can be had for under 30¢ (I bought it as part of a larger package of floss, and I don't recall either the actual price or the number of skeins in the package, so I'm just going off my memory of the price of stuff at Wal-Mart.)

Technicals~ I used: D hook, DMC craft floss (unlike embroidery floss, craft floss doesn't split), & faceted 6mm beads in a translucent turquoise. Here's a scan of the bracelet, which will give you slightly better detail (though of course it's a bit pushed out of shape since it's been flattened):
I had to mess around with the color balance on this scan to get the beads to be easily visible. In reality, the beads & floss are much closer together in color. In fact, I switched from my original idea of using blue floss to green floss because the beads are more green than blue.

Now, how did I make it? Fairly simple, actually. That's only 3 rounds of work there. First round was 50 chainless single crochets. Second round, where the beads are, was beadedDC, ch-1 skip 1 sc, then another beadedDC around. Third round was SCs all around again.

It's a bit looser than I really wanted it to be, but not so much that it will fall off. It's easy to put on, though.

Very pretty for such little cost & effort!


Finished these today. It's a fairly straightforward project. Bluejeans embellished with little flower motifs. More stuff for when we get back home to Texas, once winter comes along anyway. I still need to embroider the M on the other back pocket (it's for our last name) & go back and see how much I can touch up the E, but they're essentially done.

Sized 12 months, so they're Esther's. They were actually Linda's originally, but Linda is in 3T stuff right now, and Esther will be in 12 months stuff by the time it's cool enough to wear these. And I've been wanting to do a couple of embellishment projects.

I adapted a pattern out of the book So Simple Crochet, one of the motif patterns in there. Used DMC embroidery & craft floss I had on hand, and a 2mm hook, to make the motifs. Much smaller scale than I usually work in, but for a good cause.

And now for a gratuitous Esther photo. Here she is modelling the shorts from my Beginner Baby Set:
This will probably be the last time she wears these shorts. They're supposed to fit up to three months, & she's seven months, so I'm already getting more use out of them than I figured I would, but there's no need for the drawstring in them anymore.

It wasn't that long ago that she was swimming in them. Sniff, sniff.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Quick WIP for Wednesday

This will one day be a sweater for my eldest daughter.

I just wanted to prove that I haven't lost the ability to crochet!

The stitch pattern is an adaptation of one in Candy Tots by Candi Jensen. The hook is an H. The yarn is, of course, Caron Simply Soft.

We will be going back to Texas this summer/fall for good (YAY!), and so will be somewhere it actually gets cold. So I'm working on sweaters for the girls to wear this coming winter. 'Scuse me while I twitch at the thought of again living where it dips below the high sixties...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The starving supermodels ate their brains!

I suspect it was her:
She looks like the type, doesn't she? (To be fair, I'd be homicidal if I had to dressin that "outfit" as well.)

I am speaking, of course, of the July issue of Crochet! magazine. Y'know 'em, they're the ones "defining crochet." I've made fun of their new starving supermodel motif in this space before, but it is unusually apparent in this issue. Enough so that I actually wrote a letter-to-the editor.

You see, it all started out so hopefully. Today is payday, and there's a book out with novellas from Kelley Armstrong & Kim Harrison, two of my favorite authors (and I highly recommend them to anyone who used to be an Anita Blake fan but ran screaming from Ms Hamilton's novels when they turned into poorly-written soft porn). So after leaving Wal-Mart--where, by the way, I scored some great new baby yarn--we went to Borders so I could look for Dates from Hell and, of course, dig for new crochet magazines.

This was the only one. And I was so very excited when I saw it. Because this dress was on the cover:
Isn't it gorgeous? Très mod, no? It's got an übercool '70s vibe to it. I so wanted to make it. I mean, I was gonna come home and hop on the internet and find the yarns to make it. I've got a strapless bra, I'm fearless. I'd wear it to church, even (we've got a very laid-back church here).

And then...

And then, I got to the pattern. And to this little tidbit:


Instructions given fit 28-30 inch bust (x-small); for 32-34 inch bust (small) and 36 - 38 inch bust (medium), change hook size.

Um, OK. Extra small, small, and medium. Most American women are a size 14 or above. In other words, not extra small, small, or medium. WTF? Seriously, have these women looked at actual crocheters lately? Come on, this thing is published in Texas! TEXAS! I'm from there, I know what we look like. And we do not look like "extra small." Not by any stretch of the imagination.

There are several really cute things in there I'd love to make...Oddly, though, all the ones I truly want to make stop short at size medium.

I'm not a size medium. I don't want to be a size medium. I weigh 185 and I wear a size 18. Back in high school when I was eating like one meal a day and walking probably five or six miles a day, I was a size 14. Send me off to Bergen-Belsen for a few months and I might come back a medium, but don't bet on it.

I'm used to this silly attitude towards plus size women from the fashion world in general. We're supposed to wear sackcloth and ashes while we nosh on our celery sticks in a concerted effort to become the new ideal of a size 4. (Once upon a time, the ideal was a size 8. Size 8 is the size off which all other sizes are based, in theory. But now a size 8 would be considered too big.) Certainly, we're not supposed to want to dress attractively.

Know what, though? We do. Oh, not everyone. But take a look in a Lane Bryant or a Torrid or an Ashley Stewart the next time you're in a mall. Even those of us whose sizes are firmly in the double digits like to wear attractive things.

It's OK, though. It's not all lost! These two tops actually do have directions for my size:

Those first two are the same top, by the way. A front view, and then a back view.

Cute, aren't they?

Not any more firmly rooted in reality, though. I don't know any women, no matter their bust measurement, who are willing to go out in public bra-less. And you really can't wear a brasseire with either of those tops. (They weren't the only offenders in this area, by the way, just the most obvious.)

That first one, the one with the tie back, goes up to a 46-inch bust. I assume this to be an over-the-bust measurement. OK, boys and girls, this is me. I could wear that top if I made it in the largest size. Click that link, look at my photo, and then ask yourself if you really want that to happen. (Not that I think I am ugly, but me without a bra is only a good idea for the nurslings.)

Again, both of those are beautiful pieces, but horrendously impractical & unrealistic for most crocheters.

But again, all is not lost! If I want to use that magazine to crochet a top that is a) in my size and b) can be worn with a bra, I still get to make this:
That sound you hear is me whimpering in pain and submission.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Holy Moses!

So, back in January one of those college students selling magazines came around to our door & I got sucked in to subscribing to a crochet magazine. Quick and Easy Crochet, which I'd never heard of before, nor seen. Yeah, I know, pretty dumb.

Well, I was starting to think I was going to have to track these people down, 'cause it's been four months. But I got my first issue of the magazine in the mail Monday. It's great! I mean, it's not perfect, but it's a lot more my style than anything else I've come across.

The most amazing thing of all?


Dude, is that even legal?

With the total dearth of eyelash yarn, I'll even forgive this being on the cover:
Poor child, doesn't she (he?) look just...dumbfounded? Like Mommy, why are you doing this to me?

I'm telling you, if I put Esther in a get-up like that, she'd gum my jugular out.

Actually, I think the sweater might be doable, just not in that yarn. Hmm, Red Heart Hunny bulky weight yarn. Can't say I've ever heard of that before.

The hat, though...That's just wrong.

When I checked the mail, the magazine was buried under a bunch of junk mail, & originally I took it to be another Mary Maxim catalogue. This was my first glimpse of it:
Well, not that exactly. Because, like I said, it was under a bunch of other stuff. I saw it and thought immediately how cute it was, and then saw that it came with directions.

Now, blessed as I am in the milk-making department, there's no way I could actually wear that top, which not only is strapless but leaves much of the back bare. And I hate shrugs. But the skirt appealed to me, so my immediate thought was "Wow, I bet I can figure out how to make that from the picture." Then I saw the notation that directions begin on page 27. So I was all happy thinking I had a catalogue with a couple of patterns included. I was ecstatic when I realized it was a magazine.

And I'm only getting happier about it, 'cause like I said I actually like nearly everything in there--even the stuff I won't make, I can appreciate--and I have a subscription. Doing my happy dance.

This outfit, by the way, uses Paton's Grace yarn & an I hook. Nice yarn, though not cheap. At least it's not an F hook like so many are.

Here's another one:
Cute, no? I don't see myself making it, because it's a thread project and those just take too long for me (especially with a D hook!). It's very pretty, though, and would be a lot more appropriate for this area than many of the coverups I see people wandering around Ala Moana Shopping Center in.

There are twenty-five patterns in total (counting the seperate pieces of the outfits as their own pattern). Twelve of them are for clothing (discounting accessories like belts and hats, but counting shawls & the lone shrug). There is the requisite doily, of course, and a "Christmas Year Round" lapghan. There is also a fashion doll "butterfly" outfit, with wings, which is appropriate with the current Fairytopia Barbie craze. (It's not made with thin thread either, but Aunt Lydia's Quick Crochet worsted weight thread & the same brand's microfiber sportweight.) Very cute. The whole thing takes up one entire page, no more. Très cool, and something I might actually make for my girls once I'm done with my current project. (My knit theory died a swift death; it just takes too long!)

I'm not sure how long I am subscribed for, though...There seem to be only five issues in a year...Wait, I finally found a website for the magazine! It's bimonthly. I have the May/June issue. So I should get one in, what, July? Too cool. I can even buy cat jewelry from the website, should I so desire!