August 29, 2014

Open Air Shrug

So, now that I got a few toys out of my system, it is time to try and tackle another piece of clothing.
I have been trying out clothes that are worked on one or two pieces, so that I don't have to try to deal with advanced pattern making or sleeves or anything like that. When I saw this pattern by Lion Brand for an Open Air Shrug, and saw that it was one piece that was seamed up, and considered Easy, I thought I would give it a go.
Note: You might need a Lion Brand free account to see/download this pattern. 

I'm using the other set of yarn I got at Hill Country Weavers... the Berroco Weekend DK. The color for this yarn is 2982 or "Coast". It is 75% Acrylic 25% Peruvian Cotton, and can also be machine washed but air dried, which is good, since I see myself wearing this around the house and over summer dresses a lot, and I wanted to be able to clean it.

This yarn was very reasonable at the 6.50 a skein, and of much better quality and feel, in my opinion, than say a Red Heart or Vanna's Choice, and for something that I am going to wear and have on my skin, I want it to feel good. They had a sweater made up from it that really sold me on how it would look and wear. Doing the math based on what the pattern called for, I needed 5 skeins of the Berroco. That makes the yarn cost for this sweater about $35 with tax. That seemed about right for what I might pay in a store for something like this, so that was comforting.

The pattern calls to use two different hooks; an F hook for the sleeves and a J hook for the body. After I made my gauge swatch in the suggested F hook, I found my swatch was too small, so I used a G (4.25mm) hook for the sleeves. (G is one size up from F as you might guess...)
The pattern is worked from one sleeve, across the body, and to the other sleeve. Then the sleeves are seamed. Working on the first sleeve was very simple. The pattern has 4 repeating rows and the only tricky part is making sure that you count the turning chains at the beginning as a stitch and making sure you have the same number of stitches at the end of each row. I had to count and rip out several rows because I wasn't paying attention.

As for the body, I a few issues as well to work out. In Row 3 you have two somewhat unfamiliar stitches, a 3DC cluster and a "dtr". I was lucky I knew the 3DC cluster from previous work, which is basically 3dc in the same stitch but you only do half of each dc then finish them all together. As for the "dtr" it is a double treble crochet, which I didn't even know was a thing that existed. Thank goodness they have a link and as far as I can tell its is more like a quadruple crochet, in that you wrap once more than a triple and work it off like you would.
Left is the "dtr" On the right is my fudged dc/tc work around stitch.
Those dtr stitches came back to give me trouble then in Row 4. You have to work a dc into the top of them. The ones I made certainly did not have the nice neat top like a single or double crochet does, so I had no idea how to work into them... instead I did a kind of wonky double crochet that went around both sides of it. I guess it is more of a treble since I pulled a loop up around each side of the dtr, then did a dc like normal. (see pic above)

Thank goodness it is easy to count the rows, because I only used the large open holes to see if I was getting close to done. It says repeat 5 times which means you should have 6 of the set of two open rows when done with the body width. Then it was time to switch back to the smaller hook and do the second sleeve like the first.
Full set of the rows 2-5 that repeat across the body.
I finished the full body piece in I would say about 25 hours. When it was seamed up the sleeves, I tried it on and realized two things. First, it really is one size, and I can't see how adding the finish around the opening is going to make it bigger for larger sizes. Second, the model in the picture must be very petite because it is not remotely that large or loose on me or my mom. To make the opening larger and a little less awkward on the shoulders I opened the sleeve seam back up about an inch so that it was wider of an opening. Also I was sure when sewing it up to the all the joined yarn tails on the inside of the piece.

To do the edging it told you to do 145 sc around evenly for the 1x size. Of course it did not say how. So I just started at one end of the opening at a sleeve and did 2 sc in each dc row height and 3 sc in each chain space opening. All they way across the front I ended up with 89 stitches. Doing the same across the back gave me a total of 178 sc around. I decided that was ok since my opening was larger than theirs and I wanted it to be loose fitting. I also did front loops not back loops so that the ribbing would be a detail on the outside of the edging, not the inside.
Sleeve, body opening edging, and back details.
I do really love this yarn after working with it for so long. It is the perfect weight and did not start unravelling at all during the working. The finished product folds down and will fit in a drawer unlike that last tunic sweater I did, and it has a great hang to it. I can't help but feel like I made a mistake somewhere though since I have almost two full skeins of yarn left, and I know I did my math right.
Difficulty: Easy for the stitches, maybe a plus since it has some different methods.
Time to complete: 30 hours

August 25, 2014

Whale Earbud Holder

This creation is kind of a follow up to the Mushroom that I made a few weeks back. Another birthday, another request. It's way better than trying to figure out what to buy someone when they just say make me that! So I did. 

This little guy is a little bit wider than the mushroom but still a very small project. This one was maybe an hour since it had a few more parts to it.
Parts and Buttons
Items Needed:
Body yarn (blue), Belly yarn (white), H hook, Two buttons

In blue or body color.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in magic ring (6)
Rnd 2: *inc* (12)
Rnd 3: *sc, inc* (18)
Rnd 4: *2 sc, inc* (24)
Rnd 5: *3 sc, inc* (30)
Rnd 6-8: *sc* (30)
Rnd 9: *4 sc, inc* (36)
Rnd 10-12: *sc* (36)
Bind off. Weave in tails.

In white or belly color.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in magic ring (6)
Rnd 2: *inc* (12)
Rnd 3: *sc, inc* (18)
Rnd 4: *2 sc, inc* (24)
Rnd 5: *3 sc, inc* (30)
Rnd 6: *4 sc, inc* (36)
Rnd 7: chain 6, to form first loop and secure in first stitch front loop with a sc, sc in front loops only next 10, chain 6 and secure with sc in 12th stitch for second loop, sc around in front loops only the remaining 24 stitches. (36)
Rnd 8-9: sc around (36)
Rnd 10: dec, sc4 (30)
Bind off.

Tail: (2)
one in body color, one in belly color - do belly one first.
Rnd 1: Chain 7, turn and sc 6 across (6)
Rnd 2: ch1, dec, scx2, dec (4)
Rnd 3: dec, dec (2)
Rnd 4: ch 4, 3-st trc cluster in first stitch , ch 4 slip stitch into same first stitch, slip stitch into next, repeat for second tailfin.
Bind off. The last row should form two tall peaks for the tail fins.
** 3-st trc cluster — join 3 trc into a cluster: * yrh twice, insert hook in ch-sp, yrh, pull loop through, [yrh, pull yarn through 2 loops] twice; rep from * twice, yrh and pull yarn through all 4 loops on hook.

Bind off belly color one, tuck in ends. Once finished with body color one, align belly up to it and sc around the edges of both to form one tail piece. Try to end at the side of the base of the tail and leave a long tail to sew to body with.

Fins: (2) in body color
Chain 4, 3-st trc cluster in third chain from hook, ch 4 slip stitch into same first stitch. Creates a single fin. Leave tail to sew to body.

Sew belly inside the body, so that the last row of the belly is about three rows up inside the body. Sew it about 15 stitches wide so that it can still open at the front around the eyes. Sew tail to the back outside behind the hinge. Sew buttons in appropriate spots to form eyes with the loops from the belly. Sew fins to bottom row of the body to the sides. If you want, embroider a small dot in white on the top towards the front for the blow hole. :)
Cute smile :) 
Say ahhhhhhhhh.
I used really negligible bits of yarn for this, so I could make a ton of these. Next time I make one I plan to just make the body one piece, switching colors and simply chaining an opening, then I could make it a lot smaller too. 

Super Easy, 1 hr. 

August 20, 2014

Kaiju Groupie

Bear with me as today's needs a little backstory...

I take melatonin before bed to help with my insomnia and general lack of ability to fall asleep. Lately I have been feeling like it has not worked so well... the bottle does say that you can develop a tolerance to it. So I have stopped taking it for two days now. The difference is easy to see, to me anyway. With melatonin I have a 10-15 min fall asleep time, without is 45-1hr asleep time.

In that extra time I lie awake playing out whole conversations for upcoming events that make me nervous or anxious, which only serves to make me more so at the time of the actual event. I try breathing meditation and counting. Most of the time there are also a few lines of a song on a loop in my head. And I also think about upcoming things farther away than next week... like Halloween.

Night one of no melatonin, I forced myself to stop playing out a scene and think of something else. I thought about crochet and my new Otachi and how cute she is. And thought about a few posts from tumblr of a neat jacket and dress design based on her design. And how cool it would be to cosplay, and how I wish I knew how to pattern and sew. Which lead to thoughts of more simple outfits for conventions.

Thinking about Otachi and the movie, Pacific Rim in general the words "Kaiju groupie" start floating around in my head. I pulled out my phone and saw there are actually quite a few shirts and things with the phrase on it for sale online. Then as I was thinking about it all this image (insert angel chorus hallelujah!) popped into my mind, almost fully formed, for a t-shirt design. Since an uppercase "G" and an "e" can look mirrored and similar and they have rounded tops and the word kaiju has so many vertical elements... my typography and logo designing brain had it all worked out.

Of course thats when I fell asleep and forgot about it.

Night Two of no melatonin, I was laying there and suddenly remembered it again. Of course I went to sleep before sketching it out, but the second remembering forced it into my awake brain and today I went and put it to paper.
I haven't sketched in a while and it was really nice to do. Got out the graph paper, to help space and size the art, and a 5B pencil. I traced the rough sketch on to tracing paper. Then I scanned it as best I could.

I then took the scan into Illustrator. Made vector art out of it with the pen tool which took forever (about 2 hours). So now I am going to send this off to Zazzle and get one printed on a navy shirt.

Watermarked for internet safety.
If you want one, I have put the design up for sale on t-shirts and stickers on Zazzle as it is free to do.
Get one by clicking here!

I super duper love it and on the navy color the eyes are nice dark slits. The little decoration at the bottom is Otachi's nostrils, but also just looks cute...

August 18, 2014

Otachi Kaiju

I have had Lemmy Loop in my RSS feed for a long time... and more recently on tumblr. So when I saw her make a crochet Otachi I metaphorically died of "cute-overload". She was kind enough to release her pattern to a few who asked nicely, and so my new-found dream of making one could come true!
Notes: Please do not spam her for the pattern unless you really intend to make one. She has asked that we do not share the pattern, sell the pattern or sell items made from the pattern... so, No, I cannot make you one.

I wanted to use just the "right" yarn, so when I got to go to that great yarn store in Austin and I took the opportunity to find my perfect yarn for my girl. As blue is my favorite color, I wanted to give mine the blue-gray coloring like in the film and in this particular image. It's probably just because all the fight scenes are so dark that she looks blue though.
With hues of dark blue, black, purple, gray and a tiny bit of green, I knew Madeline Tosh, Tosh DK in "Stargazing" was perfect. It is 100% superwash merino wool. A dk weight is similar to a worsted weight. It can be machine washed, but has to air dry. At $22 a skein, and I needed two, Otachi is the second most expensive thing I have ever made. (Blathers is #1.)

I also wanted to use the Berroco yarn in "Coast", that I got at the same time as the Stargazing, for Otachi's spots and mouth embroidery, but since I bought it for a shrug pattern which I have not started, I decided not to risk using any. So I found a Bernat Handicrafter cotton on clearance in a nautical "sky blue". The color is close and it seemed a safer route, lest I not have enough for my shrug.

I printed out this 12 page pattern for two reasons, 1. I didn't want my phone to die, checking Evernote every two seconds, and 2. with so many intricate pieces I needed to be able to physically mark off where I was in the patterns for each piece.
Parts Head, Nose horns, head fins, forearms, body, back scales.
I was working through the parts just fine until I hit the part to make her back scales out of the crocodile stitch. I have never made anything ever using that stitch. And in this case Youtube videos only show how to make a horizontal row of scales. I watched quite a few videos, but this one was most helpful to me, since it showed how to use the pair of dc's turned horizontally to make a single scale. Took me about an hour to sort just this part out, and my chain of scales tends to curl to the left... but once it was sewed down to the body it was fine.

Each arm is made up of 5 pieces: upper and lower arm, two wing membranes and a wingtip. It was kind of hard to stuff the wingtip pieces... I was unable to get any stuffing in, until I used the eraser end of my pencil to help. For the wing membranes I used a dc instead of the tc as written. When made with a tc it came out too large for the wingtips and forearms... not sure if my tc is too loose, not done right or what.

After looking at all her pictures I saw she also put spikes and scales down the tail. I modified and rewrote her tail pattern to use popcorn stitches (like the toes) to add the side spikes in the rows so I would not have to sew all those on later. I had to tweak the order of the stitches in the rows after I connected all the three tail spikes together so that the bumps would be on the bottom and centered to the large spike of the tail which I had on top. It kind of looked like a weird lobster tail while making it... see picture and pattern below.
Tail and Back Legs.
My Tail Pattern
I realize this is unhelpful if you don't have the rest of the pattern, but you could make a weird lobster from it I guess...
Round 1. Connect the three tail claws and sc around. I used decreases to string them together and ended up with 10 sc around, which I then increased to 12 in the next row.
Round 2. SC in each stitch (12)
Round 3. SC6, popcorn stitch 4dc, sc3, popcorn stitch 4dc, sc (12)
Round 4. SC in each stitch (12)
Round 5. (Inc, SC x 3) Repeat around (15)
Round 6. SC in each stitch (15)
Round 7. SC8, popcorn stitch 4dc, sc4, popcorn stitch 4dc, sc (15)
Round 8. SC in each stitch (15)
Round 9. (Inc, SC x 4) Repeat around (18)
Round 10. SC in each stitch (18)
Round 11. SC in each stitch (18)
Round 12. SC10, popcorn stitch 4dc, sc5, popcorn stitch 4dc, sc (18)
Round 13. SC in each stitch (18)
Round 14. (Inc, SC x 5) Repeat around (21)
Round 15. SC in each stitch (21)
Round 16. SC in each stitch (21)
Round 17. SC in each stitch (21)
Round 18. SC 12, popcorn stitch 5dc, sc6, popcorn stitch 5dc, sc (21)
Round 19. SC in each stitch (21)
Round 20. (Inc, SC x 6) Repeat around (24)
Round 21. SC in each stitch (24)
Round 22. SC in each stitch (24)
Round 23. SC in each stitch (24)
Round 24. SC in each stitch (24)
Round 25. SC14, popcorn stitch 5dc, sc7, popcorn stitch 5dc, sc (24)
Round 26. SC in each stitch (24)
Round 27. (Inc, SC x 7) Repeat around (27)
Finish off and leave long tail for sewing. Stuff tail.
** Popcorn stitch is where you do 4 or 5 double crochet stitches in one sc space. Upon completing the last dc you draw up a loop, remove your hook, go back into the first dc you made, insert your hook and draw through that loop from the last dc. Then I secure it with a chain which I use for the next round.  

I wanted smaller scales for the tail so I made a second chained set of 5. They are like the 11 on the back, but instead of dc I used hdc to make the scales smaller. I also made one larger single scale for at the back of the head before the back scales and one tiny scale for the bottom of the tail.
Full set of all the scales for the back.
The glow spots are magic circles, that are closed with a slip stitch. I made mine a bit larger than in the pictures, mainly because the thickness of the yarn made larger circles, and I wanted to sew less on. On each side of the body there are two MC6's, two MC5's, and one MC4. On each side of the tail there are three MC4's and one MC3. That makes 9 on each side for a total of 18 in total. Making and sewing them on was 2 hours all by itself.

I ordered 9mm and 12mm amber slit eyes off Amazon. I had some blue and purple on hand from something else, but since the yarn is so dark, they did not really show up or stand out, hence going with amber. I also added a disk of white behind them which really helped them stand out.
Finished Otachi! Annoyed I can't seem to photograph her colors right.
Time Breakdown:
Head 30 min
Big Horns (2) 20 min
Little Horns (4) 20 min
Body 1.5 hr
Back Scales 1 hr
Forearms (2) 1 hr
Upper arms (2) 40 min
Wingtips (2) 1 hr
Wing Membranes (4) 1hr
Legs (2) 1 hr
Short tail claws (2) and Long tail claw 20 min
Tail 2 hours
Body details: above back leg spikes (2), wing tip spikes (2), knee spikes (2), chin spikes (2), tail scales (5) 1 hr
Light Blue stuff: glow spots (18), face embroidery: 3 hours
Assembly of all parts: another 8 hours (over three nights of 2-3 hours working on it)
Total time: about 25 hours

I like the way she looks with my blue shutters.
Finished size for Otachi is 17 inches from nose to tip of the tail. About 10 inch wingspan.
Difficulty: Intermediate. Parts are not too hard to make, with the exception of the crocodile stitch, but this does take a lot of time.

August 13, 2014

I am Groot.

So yeah, Guardians of the Galaxy was even cooler than the trailers suggested. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it, if you have seen it, than you will recognize today's creation. Groot.

In full disclosure, I have not read any of the comics, however, I am a firm believer that a fan, is a fan, is a fan, regardless of "vetting". So, I loved Groot and felt it would be only right to make one of my own to hold me out until Marvel starts selling solar-powered dancing Groot toys.

I started him at about 11 in the morning and go through almost 3/4ths of this project by 4pm. So I am going to give him a clock time of about 8 hours total to make one. I used most of one skein of Sincerely by Purl Essence in Multi Naturals, which is a variegated yarn from a tan to a dark brown. All pieces are made in that yarn. I used 12mm black safety eyes.

I also gave Groot something new, a voice box! I ordered one off amazon and recorded myself saying I am Groot in my best Vin Diesel voice and added it to the insides. Since it is re-recordable I left a way to retrieve the voice box, should I be able to get a ringtone of the actual sentence from the film.

Once again I have to ask that since this is a licensed character, please do not sell this pattern or your creations... but if your friend wants one in exchange for a mix tape, go ahead. :)

Head: Round 1– 6SC in the magic ring (6)
Round 2– Inc in each stitch around (12)
Round 3– (Inc, SC) Repeat around (18)
Round 4– (Inc, SC x 2) Repeat around (24)
Round 5– sc around back loops only
Round 6-7–  sc around
Round 8– (Dec, SC x 2) Repeat around (18)
Round 9-11– sc around
Round 12– (Dec, SC ) Repeat around (12)
Round 13– sc around 12
Stop here and add safety eyes- then stuff
Round 14– decrease around 6
Round 15– decrease around to close
Once closed, embroider eye brows and mouth on in darker brown.

Big Head Horn (1)
Round 1– MC 5
Round 2– sc in each around
Round 3– inc in each stitch around (10)
Round 4-6– sc in each around (10)
Bind off, sew shut, leave tail to sew to head in front over left eye.

Medium Head Horn (1) Round 1– 4SC in the magic ring (4)
Round 2– Inc, sc x 3 (5)
Round 3– inc, sc x 4 (6)
Round 4–  inc, sc x 5 (7)
Round 5– inc, sc x 6 (8)
Round 6– SC in each stitch around (8)
Bind off, sew shut, leave tail and sew over right eye.
Head with only two horns, but embroidery done.
Small Head Horns (make 2) Round 1– 4SC in the magic ring (4)
Round 2– Inc, scx3 (5)
Round 3– inc, sc x4 (6)
Round 4– inc, sc x 5 (7)
Round 5– sc around (7)
Bind off, sew shut, leave tail and sew to head, back sides

Body to Knees Round 1– chain 6, form loop with slip stitch in first (6)
Round 2– sc around 6 for neck.
Round 3– Inc in each stitch around (12)
Round 4– (Inc, SC) Repeat around (18)
Round 5– (Inc, SC x 2) Repeat around (24)
Round 6– (Inc, SC x 3) Repeat around (30)
Round 7– (Inc, SC x 4 stitches) Repeat around (36)
Round 8-9–  sc around
Round 10– sc around if you just want to stuff and be done.
If adding voice box then do sc x 14, ch8, sc x 14. This leaves a hole to add and remove the box. You can either sew it up after inserting the voice box or add a zipper or laces to be able to open and close it.
Round 11– sc around 36
Round 12– sc 6, dec x 3, sc 12, dec x 3, sc 6 (30)
Round 13– sc around (30)
Round 14– sc 5, dec x 2, sc 5, dec, sc 5 , dec x2, sc 5 (25)
Round 15– sc around (25)
Round 16– sc 4, dec, sc 4, dec, sc 4 , dec , sc 4, dec, sc3tog (20)
Round 17-20– sc around (20)
Round 21– start legs: sc 4 or to center of body opposite opening, chain 4, sc around. Your legs will have a width of 14 stitches.
Round 22-36– 15 rows of sc around
Bind off , go back and do second leg. Leave open to stuff and sew foot on.
Finished head, body and feet.
Feet and shins (make 2)Round 1– 6SC in the magic ring (6)
Round 2– Inc each stitch around (12)
Round 3– (Inc, SC) Repeat around (18)
***For a toe: make 5 DC in the stitch. Remove the hook from its current place and move it back to the first DC. Join this DC with the last DC you made with a slip stitch. (aka Popcorn stitch)
Round 4– 1SC, *1 SC, 1 toe* repeat until you have 4 toes, sc 3, do tiny toe of 3dc popcorn, SC in 5 remaining stitches (18)
NOTE: For the second foot, you need to do the tiny toe first, so do the order of the toes backwards.
Round 5-6– SC in each stitch around (18)
Round 7– (Dec, SC x 7) Repeat around (16)
Round 8– (Dec, SC x 6) Repeat around (14)
Round 9-12– SC in each stitch around (14)
Stuff and sew to leg at the knee.

Arms (make 2) Round 1– 6SC in the magic ring (6)
Round 2– Inc each stitch around (12)
***For a finger: slip stitch into next sc, chain 5, turn and sc in first chain from hook back down to base of chain (4), slip stitch to same stitch you started in, continue to next
Round 4– 2SC, 1 finger, sc x 2, 3 more fingers, sc in 4 remaining stitches (12)
Round 5-8– SC in each stitch around (12)
Round 9– decrease, sc around (8)
Round 10-24– sc around (8)

Sew head to body at neck. Sew arms closed and attach at shoulder height on the appropriate sides. Sew feet to legs, making sure that they are on the right sides. Be sure to stuff it all before you close it. I also embroidered some chest plates, elbow and knee plates and shoulder blades in the darker brown yarn like his mouth. Might add some green to the shoulders. Could add a flower to the palm... or a tiny Rocket Raccoon to the back......
Finished height is about 10 inches tall.
Time to compete: 8 hours
Difficulty: Easy. Pretty basic, can get elaborate as you like with the embroidery or leave it off.

August 8, 2014

Mini Mushroom Pouch

Quick yarn project here! I'm talking 30 minutes or less.

For a friends birthday she asked for me to make a case like she saw on Ravelry for her earbuds. A few minutes later we decided it might be cute if I made one that looked like a mushroom. Seemed easy enough of a shape. So I got home, found some yarn and started to think out a pattern. Here it is.

Items needed:
Yarn colors for mushroom cap, and underside/stem
5.0mm hook
yarn needle
tiny bit of polyfill - optional
buttons, needle and thread - optional

I used a maroon red for the cap, and white for the underside and stem.
The cap, underside and stem are three different pieces. I did this so that I could stuff the stem part.

Mushroom Pouch

Cap, in red or cap color
MC 4
R1. sc4
R2. sc1, increase, sc1, increase (6)
R3. sc, sc, increase, sc, sc, increase (8)
R4. sc3, inc, sc 3, inc (10)
R5. sc 4, inc, sc 4, inc (12)(Inc, sc 1)* (18)
R6. sc 18(Inc, sc 2 )* (24)
R7. sc 24
R8. sc 24
R9. (Inc, sc 3)* (30)
R10. sc30
Bind off, leave tail for sewing to base.

Base, in white or stem color
MC 6
R1. Sc 2 in each sc around (12)
R2. (Inc, sc 1)* (18)
R3. (Inc, sc 2 )* (24)
R4. (Inc, sc 3)* (30)
R5. chain 8, sc to first sc to form a loop to go over button on cap, sc around in front loops only (30)
R6. sc 30 around
R7. dec, sc 2 (24)
R8. slip stitch 8, double crochet 8, slip stitch last 8
bind off

Stem, in white or base color
MC 6
R2-4. sc 6 around
stuff and leave tail to sew to base

Sew stem to center of base.
Use the tall section of base's last row to sew to inside of cap. Put the base so it is snug inside the cap and sew along the top and bottom of the "tab" of the base. This forms an inside kind of hinge. The bottom edge of the cap should line up horizontal to the front loop only round of the base.

Sew a button, or knot, to the cap above the loop on the base so that the loop can close around the button and keep the pouch closed. Optional: Add other buttons for spots. I also added a keychain ring to the top to allow for it to hang off things.

The buttons really make it cute.
Make a bunch of these and use up those leftover bits of yarn! Play with shape and color. Maybe fully stuff them and use them as pincushions. Or make a few and add them to a fall wreath. :) 

Difficulty: Beginner
Time to complete: 30 min or so.

August 4, 2014

New Hook & Tunic

This post is a two part-er!
Up first, something new: A crochet hook review

I love to attend Scarborough Faire here in Texas. Most years I go to get henna, good food, and a bit of a sunburn. This year I saw something new. One of the wood shops sold hair sticks and clips, but also had a small selection of handmade crochet hooks! They were all from Morgan's Mane, and lucky for you readers, she has an Etsy store! My go to hook is a 5.00 mm/H/8, but as I didn't see any I bought one up a size at an 5.5/I/9. These hooks vary in lengths and styles, but the one I went with was a dark stained rosewood hook that is about 5 inches long. It is one of the more plain styles with a finial shape on the end, but I didn't think I would like feeling something more elaborate in my palm. Also, knowing the type of wood reminds me of the types of wands in Harry Potter and how they are identified by wood, core, and length... brings a smile to my face.

The hook itself feels lovely in my hand. The butt end nestles right into the outside edge of my hand at my pinky joint, is light, and feels strong. The neck is nicely tapered to a fairly tight return to the hook. Comparing the shapes to my go to hook, you cannot see any difference in quality or shape. I do wish that it was a slick on yarn as aluminum is. There is a slight pull, like a vibration, and it forces me to hook slower and a little looser. All that said, once I got used to it, it turned out to be a great little hook. I can't help but think that any of these custom beauties would be a great gift idea for anyone in your life who crochets.

On to part 2!
I bought the hook without having an plans to use it anytime soon, but as these things go, less than a week later I saw a pattern calling for an I hook! The pattern is free from Lion Brand yarn with an account. I have found so many good ones, though, that there is no reason not to make an account.

New Lace Tunic
Until now I have not been ambitious enough to tackle people clothing, especially since that dog sweater I attempted didn't fit right... but as this pattern is two large rectangles, I figured I could attempt it.

First thing I did was go find some yarn. I had on hand 5 skeins of Caron Simply Soft in Dark Country Blue. I had intended to use it to relearn to knit and make a Coraline Star Sweater, but I have given up on that idea. I compared the amount of yarn needed and realized I had almost enough and ran out real quick to find another skein.

The pattern itself is actually not too hard to follow. Choose your size and go from there. Once you have the foundation done, it repeats 4 rows to length, with a trim row on the other end as well. What I did have trouble with, was they way they worded those rows. Once you know the pattern it is simple, but that wall of text made it hard to put down your work and find your place again and then remind you what row you were on. I made myself a cheat sheet of the 4 rows simplified so I could easily look at my working row and know where I left off.

The center of each row repeats along the length, and each row has different ends.
I made a 1x since I like my sweaters a bit roomy. I know my yarn is a bit thicker than the one it calls for, but it is on the thin side of a worsted weight yarn and feels lovely. So for me, a single set of those 4 repeating rows takes anywhere from 26-30 minutes to do. As each panel has roughly 50 sets to achieve the length called for, I am estimating that making the front and back pieces took about 25 hours each, total of 50 hours. I started work on this in late May... Competed it August 2nd.

The ease of the pattern stops at finishing. Once you have the two rectangles finished you have to sew them up just right to make it into something wearable. That took me another 2 hours or so. The pattern says "seam up the sides (leaving a space for the arm holes) and across the shoulders"... it fails to say HOW to seam... So for the outside edges I simply stacked them up right and did a single crochet along the edge. Then turned the garment inside out so the seam would be on the inside.
sc seam up the inside.
I then marked out the shoulder seam as directed and tried my best to do some sort of a diagonal seam. This was difficult since the pattern has so many openings and chain spaces. Since I was unsure, I left the shoulder seam open on the ends with long tails so I could rip it out if needed. When I tried it on. with the cowl folded down, I had these like 80's pointy shoulders. It was not a good look. I think this happened because not only is the sweater a bit large on me, but the 7 inch shoulder seam is too long for my shoulders. The fix I came up with was to unseam the cowl to leave it loose and hang over the shoulders naturally, like cap sleeves. I tacked the bottom corners of the cowl together and then tacked that to the bottom of the arm hole opening. Took an extra hour to unseam it and figure out the fix.
The cowl, unseamed and tacked.
Once it was on I can't help but feel like this is not even a sweater I would try on or even buy in a store... which is a shame. Also, the whole thing is really heavy, so I guess the thinner yarn was needed. I do really like the length and it is super warm, but I doubt that I will wear it in public. It's more like a body-blanket than sweater... with some leggings and a camisole it would be comfy winter lounging wear.

I guess I am happy that I managed to make people clothes that fit me, but sweaters are hard, and after 50 hours of making panels I really wanted it to turn out stellar.

Difficulty: Pattern says Intermediate... gonna agree with that, maybe add a "plus" to that.
Time to completion: ~55 hours