September 29, 2014

Fall Sugar Pecans

Not crochet, I know... but I make these Sugar Coated Pecans pretty much every fall. They don't last very long because they are so addictive. I often give some as gifts as well. With it officially being fall I thought I would share my secret ingredients with you...

After 30 minutes.
 The secret is that I add two extra ingredients to the sugar mix: Ground Clove and Ground Ginger!
The extra spices give a great depth of flavor and add a bit of warmth to the taste. I'd say I put 1/4 teaspoon of the clove, and 1/8 of the ginger... I do make a double batch when I make these since Sam's sells a 2 pound bag.

Let me know if you try them out. They are so easy and dear lord do they make your house smell awesome. As the person making em too you get to have one... or several... during that cooldown phase where they are just a little bit warm. Gotta make sure they aren't bad, right?

Ok, back crochet.

September 26, 2014

Newborn Gifts

At the same time I was sending presents to my mom, I also included a few items for a friend of hers who is having a girl soon.

I reused the same Newborn hat pattern with my brim modification, from when I did one for charity. This time I used actual baby yarn I had on hand in a lovely variegated color scheme. The yarn is Baby Bee by Hobby Lobby in "Playtime Ombre."

Like before I did the same scallop edging for the hat. Super simple and cute.

I got ambitious and decided to also make a pair of booties in the same yarn. I found a pattern for Loopy Love Newborn Booties on Moogly blog. I cant help but think I've used another of their patterns as well, but I can't remember which. Anyway I decided to give it a go.

The pattern is pretty straightforward. Make a pair of bases and then work the uppers onto them. There is a left and a right which kind of made me a little confused, but with plenty of pictures I was able to figure it out.
So you can see the edging folds down over the last row of fpdc.
Even without doing their color change, these came out adorable. With the scallop I added on to the hat, it all really feels like a set.
All done!
Time for Hat: 1 hour
Booties: 1.5 hours (went slow, messed up a few times)

Update: Forgot to add that mom thought it needed a pom pom. Used this Fork Method tutorial to make a tiny pom. Not sure it came out spectacular but does add a bit of... whimsy?
Colors look lighter in the morning light.

September 22, 2014

Presents for Mom

My mom's birthday is this month and I feel like it is always a little nicer to make something than go buy something... While I was in the store looking at the yarns she called and I was able to have her look up the colors online to pick what she liked best from my in-store selection. We went with Vanna's Choice in Barley. I got two skeins and had her look online for patterns she liked.

She asked me to make her this "bracelet" she saw on the Better Homes website. It is basically a super long chain with a slip stitch and I took all of 35 minutes or so to make. Found a pearl-shine button to go with the Paton's brand variegated sock yarn I used. The pattern called for sport weight, but all I have is baby yarn in that weight, which really didn't match the hat I planned to make.
Bracelet with button. It's 72" long, so can be a necklace too :)

Speaking of the hat... The first hat I ever made her is a bit wonky when on, and the cupcake hat, though cute, is not really an everyday style. I did also send her a cherry for on top of that cupcake too though...
A cherry. Don't choke.
I asked her to look around the web for some hats she liked and patterns and she came back with quite a few. Since I have a lot of yarn, I decided to make two from the list she sent.

Mod Lace Hat
The first, Mod Lace Hat by Lion Brand, I made in roughly 2 hours. I used what I think is Sugar and Cream cotton yarn in a lime green color, as requested to match a ski jacket. I used a J hook which is actually larger than what is suggested, but I measured that to the gauge and was happy with the result.

I was a little confused that this started at the brim and worked its way to the crown. After completing it, I guess it was ok that way, but I tend to chain very tightly which made the brim pretty tight. Only difficult part was making sure I turned the work right at the end of each row. That makes it so that the fan shapes are staggered. I found that the hard when when my first set of rows 5-8 had both fans lined up right on top of one another... but once I got it figured out and redone it was pretty easy to keep going around. Pretty cute and, oh my goodness, so fast to work up!

modified Mom Beanie
The second, The Stage Mom Beanie, took about 4 hours to make. This is the one I had planned to match with the bracelet. I decided to go with this pattern since it was one of the few that actually used the same type of yarn that I bought, and a hook that I had on hand. (I don't own any hooks larger than the J hook and some patterns called for a super thick yarn and an M hook.) I finished the pattern and after putting it on, decided that it was a bit short. I called her up and we decided to add two more regular rows and then a brim. The brim is simply 4 more rows of sc around but using the front loops only to get the horizontal ribbing.

Flower detail
We agreed that the flower on the pattern was a bit large, so I made a basic flower from some super thick creamy ivory yarn, and a J hook, I had on hand. I then used the rest of the buttons from the bracelet to add a bit of shine to the center of the flower. Lovely!

I made all of these items over a normal 2 day weekend, so these are all great quick projects. I hope I can see a few pictures of them in action when winter rolls around.
Happy Birthday Mom! Love ya!

September 17, 2014

Project Repeats

Happy to report that at least some people are seeing these posts and asking for items of their own. So I have made quite a few duplicates lately as well as new projects.

I have now made two more Harold tigers... The left one is made from the same skeins of yarn as the original. The right one is made with a more subdued orange and a slightly creamier white since I only had minimal amounts of the original yarn at that point. I like to think that the third one is the "vintage" color scheme. The vintage one also came out larger since the orange was a bit thicker than the one I used before. I tried to see how fast I could make one and managed to get all the parts done in a single day of about 5 hours. The next day I was then able to stuff, sew, assemble and detail it in about 3 more hours, for a total of 8 instead of the 12 it took the first time.
Left is the second, same as original. Right is third, "vintage", with cream and darker orange.
And a second baby Toothless. I debated not giving him the red prosthetic fin, since as a baby he would not have it, but it is too signature to leave off. Also this time, I was having a lot of trouble with the slick metallic yarn I was using again. I had plenty left over from the first one. I'm not sure if it deteriorated somehow in my non-climate controlled storage shed or what, but to make it workable I added a second yarn. The second is a thin black worsted and I carried them along together. Since it was thicker I had to use a 5.00 hook this time.

I do think the benefit to this was that using two yarns meant that I did not have those big holes in the toy from last time that allowed the stuffing to be seen through. It also meant that this baby came out big! The first was 6 inches, this one towers to 8 easily. First earspan was 8, now 10 inches! Nose to tail original: 7 inches... new one: 9 inches! So, a two inch increase in all dimensions makes a very substantial little guy. Plus he feels really solid with two yarns. Admittedly he is not nearly so shiny but just enough of the slick comes through I think. I also slightly changed the pupil position. Being so much larger, he did take a bit longer than the first... clocked in at about 10 hours.
so you can see his tail
These projects are excellent because not only do they go nice and fast, since I have my notes and past experience to draw from, but since they are smaller projects I can use up more leftover yarn. I am really trying hard to not be that person with an entire wall of yarn balls as best I can... as it is my stash is way too large and not very well organized. Might be a good project for the winter.

September 15, 2014

Hats for a Good Cause

Saw a post on Facebook from Lion Brand Yarn who are partnering with to help out the Little Hats, Big Hearts Charity Drive. The post stuck with me. Not only is it just a nice thing to do, and I have a TON of red yarn that was given to me by a friend, but if you send something before September 30th you also are entered to win one skein of every Modern Baby yarn by Lion Brand. Pretty cool in all respects.

You can send The Chicago American Heart Association hats directly right up until January 15, 2015 though, so even if you cannot mail something this month, don't let that stop you.

Hats must be:
- cotton or acrylic
- medium to heavy weight
- machine washable and dryable

I had some super soft red acrylic that fit the bill so I set to work and made a three from a few different patterns. All these hats take about 45 min to an hour to make, so you really have no excuse not to make a few.
Newborn Crochet Hat
Newborn Crochet Hat
This hat pattern was one suggested from It takes about an hour to make. After Row 12 it doesnt really say how to make the rest of the fold up brim. I am assuming you could just do as many rows of sc around as you like till you are satisfied with how it looks when folded up. So after Row 12 I did one row of hdc around and one more of a shell edging to make it look a little nicer.
Shell row is: chain 1, sc 1, *skip 1 sc, 5dc in next stitch, skip 1 stitch, sc in next*, repeating around.

Barb's hat did not work out...
Barb's Seamless Hat
This pattern was linked from the AHA website directly.
First thing I noticed is that the pattern calls for baby weight yarn... that is fine and all, but the charity asked specifically for medium or heavy weight.. and since that is already what I was working in I had to make a few gauge swatches to fix that issue before I could start.

To make the hat the right size, without changing yarns, I had to find the right hook for the job. I started with a 5.00mm hook and the 9 sc gauge swatch was larger than the 2inches that it was supposed to be. Working down from there in hook sizes I found that a G/4.25mm hook produced the correct 2 inch gauge.

I also did a simplified round 1 by doing a magic circle and 10 sc into it and continuing from there. I got all the way to round 7 when I realized two things: 1) even thought I can still follow the pattern with my yarn and hook, the yarn is so much thicker than baby yarn that that it started doing this odd wave thing because it was so tight in increases and 2) I could not keep going and expect it to fit a human baby like it ought. Bummer, but we all learned something today: don't use normal weight yarn on a baby yarn pattern, even if you can get the gauge right.

So new pattern.

Button Flap Beanie KINDA...
Now I know I cannot use a button as the charity also requested that we refrain from embellishments or buttons or things that might be a choking hazard... BUT I know that I can simply stop this brim before the flap part and just have it be a nice ribbed brim, kind of like when I did my stripe slouch hat.

Once again I got to round 7 and did not like where the pattern went after that. Round 7 makes the flap, goes back around the hat and then turns and goes back the other way. Since I didn't want the flap part I stopped there and made up the rest myself based on that striped slouch hat pattern.

I did two more rows of dc around after 5-6, for 7-8.
The next few are for the brim which is worked perpendicular to the hat.
Row 1: Ch 7. Working in BLO, sc in the 2nd ch from hook and each ch. (6 sc) Sc2tog in the next 2 set-up row sts. Note: Do not sc the one you were just in but the next two open sts! This is the “securing st” that attaches the vertical brim rows to the horizontal last row. Do NOT ch, turn.
Row 2: Skipping the securing st, sc in the BLO evenly. (6 sc) Turn.
Row 3: Ch 1, sc in BLO evenly. (6 sc) Make securing stitch. Turn.
Row 4 – 40(or the beginning): Repeat Rows 2 – 3
To close the brim at the last row, bind off leaving a long tail and whipstitch the first and last rows together, working in the back loops of the first row to maintain the ribbed appearance.
Weave in ends.

OK now that I have two hats done... and still more than half this skein left, it is time for one more pattern. This time I am going to make it up based off a cross double crochet stitch that I just ripped out of a blanket swatch. Well call it the:

The small holes are from the X stitch.
All My X's Baby Hat
R1. MC chain 3, 11 dc into mc. (12)
R2. Ch3, 1dc in first stitch, 2dc in every stitch around (24)
R3. Ch3, 2dc in first stitch, *1dc in next stitch, 2 dc in next stitch* (36)
R4. Ch1, 1 sc around (36)
R5. Ch 3, skip one sc and dc into next dc, go back and dc into one you just skipped, then go forward 2 for the next dc, then go back one into the one you skipped. Do this around. Should make kind of an X stitch out of the two dcs (36)
R6. Ch 1, sc around (36)
R7-12: Repeat 5-6 thrice more
R13. Ch1 and 1sc in first st. * 1sc in each of the next 8sts. 2sc in the next st. repeat from * around. Slip stitch into the top of the first sc to join. <40>
R14. Ch 3, 1dc around all. Bind off.

The three finished hats.

So go forth and make a few if you have a bit of spare time and spare red yarn. You've got the rest of this month to submit to AllFreeCrochet to enter to win, and the rest of the year to send directly.

Knitters: there are patterns linked for you as well all the websites, so please join in! 

September 10, 2014

Crocodile Stitch Triangle Shawl

Last post I talked about how I started and then scrapped a shawl... Here is what I did instead.

For such nice yarn, I felt that the humble granny square, was a bit on the drab side. Lately I have been seeing a lot of crocodile stitch patterns become trendy and having done a few for details from it on Otachi, I figured I could give it a go for a full shawl.

On Etsy I came across a lovely pattern for a Crocodile Triangle Shawl by Bonita Patterns. Since it is just the one stitch I figured it would be a perfect foray into making full pieces from this amazing looking stitch.

I purchased the pattern in a three pack along with the Crocodile Wrist-warmers and a Crocodile Cardigan. Once I had the pdfs I read it over and discovered that it started from the point at the bottom and worked it's way up. That was perfect for what I had in mind because I wanted to use up both leftover yarns like I would have in the granny square. This made it easier since I could start at the bottom where I wanted the darker yarn to be and be able to gauge where to add the transition rows of colors as I ran out of the dark blue.
A few rows in and I was in love.
I managed to get 7 rows in when I started feeling the need to start switching. Next came a row of light blue. Then two rows of dark, leaving enough yarn I thought to do one final dark row, after another two rows of light. It was almost perfect, in that I only had maybe a foot of the dark yarn left after the final row. With so little left I could feel comfortable throwing that last length of yarn away...
Two stripes of light blue done, one more, then solid light blue.
The rest of the pattern then was completed in the light blue and I was able to use up both leftover skeins from the open air shrug.
The pattern itself is so simple that once you have a good understanding of how the two repeating rows work together, you can do this with no reference to the pattern at all. Perfect for on the go crocheting or quick breaks. Her pictures made it especially easy to follow and understand.

In case you make it and want to know, my finished product came out much smaller, even with having about three skeins of yarn. That just means my skeins had less yardage than hers. My last row had 21 scales from tip to tip. It is about 38 inches wide and 16 inches long down the back. Since I did not have enough to end with a full row of scales I ended on the foundation row and then did 2 sc in each chain space across. I finished it off with another full row of sc across and one more of a lace chain, to give a nice flat edge to lay against my neck and shoulders. Plus I can unravel the last few rows of the shawl if I ever find more of the same yarn. Since it is about two thirds the size it should be it would be really cute for a kid.

Done for now.
The final result made me think more of blue bird feathers or dragon scales than a crocodile and it kind of makes me want to make a whole costume out of these scale stitches... but that would be so so warm to wear and in Texas; that might be dangerous actually.

I cannot wait to make that cardigan pattern too! And I have a wonderful variegated yarn that would be perfect for the wrist-warmers.

Difficulty: Easy, once you master the stitch, if you know how to double crochet you are most of the way there!
Time to complete: 20 hours or so... estimating based on working on it for about two weeks, in roughly 2 hour sessions.

September 5, 2014

Scrapped - Granny Square Shawl

So I have a little over two skeins of the Weekend DK teal blue and maybe half a skein of the ToshDK stargazing left over from my open air shrug and Otachi respectively.

Since they are both the same weight and gorgeous together I wanted to make something with them. I feel like I might not really wear that shrug since I'm not comfortable with the way it fits, so I figured a shawl might be a nice idea for the rest of the yarn. I looked around and for some reason a lot of the shawl patterns I was looking at called for an N13 or 9.00mm hook, which I don't have one of. So instead I decided to try out this Triangle Granny Square shawl/scarf by Esther of Happy in Red.

I have made a few granny squares in the past and so had a pretty good idea of what to do. This isn't so much a pattern as a pattern. Like repeating idea pattern until you have the size you want and decide to be done. That is good cause then I could just stop when I am out of yarn.

The stargazing is such a dark color, but very pretty so I wanted it to be the edging. I figured maybe I could fade the light blue into it. So I figured I would do most of the rows in the light color, then when I get about half way into it (based on holding it up to my body and the amount of yarn left), I would started alternating colors like: one dark, three light, one dark, two light, two dark, one light, three dark...

After that I would start on the edging. I decided to do this Arc Lace edging. I picked it because it was both pretty and could be worked directly on to the edge of my giant granny triangle with a minimal amount of misery. I followed the instructions for crocheting it directly on. Each arch is worked completely and then continues in the same way you were going. I figured I would start at one outside corner and worked it towards the point of the triangle, then continued back up the other side. At the center point I might have to make something up if it did not end exactly for another full set of the 15 stitches for the foundation of an arc.

I got this far into the shawl and decided to stop and rip it out.

It was just too boring, simple and normal for such pretty yarn. I could do this with any yarn I had on hand, and I might later, but I thought it might be fun to do something cooler with such good yarn.

Of course I went to Etsy and found a crocodile stitch shrug pattern that I liked instead. So, next post will most likely be a review of that shrug instead. I still might do the rows of colors in that pattern too, but we will see how I feel about it.

September 1, 2014

Two Hospital Projects

So I recently spent some time in the hospital visiting my brother who managed to need some surgery. Crochet is the perfect time passer for situations like that, it is quiet and soothing, which is especially helpful for people like me who have major anxieties in places like that.

I finished the body of that open air shrug the first day of waiting. Day two my mom kept complaining that she forgot a belt for her pants so I whipped one up with the extra skein in my bag that I wasn't using. It was the Nature Spun, worsted weight wool in "Fanciful Blue" that I got from Hill Country Weavers. It is made by the Brown Sheep Company in Nebraska.

I looked around the internet for a pattern and decided to do a riff off of this Bow Belt by Love City. I used her base pattern which is pretty simple. I had my mom use a piece of yarn to measure her waist then chained the appropriate number of chains to equal that length. Then I used her idea of alternating single and double crochet all the way across. At the end you turn and alternate back stacking the single on top of a double and a double on top of a single. You repeat that till it is a thickness you like. I really liked that idea because since you are not creating flat tops to your rows the belt resists just folding over in half. Once it was the length and thickness we liked I wove tassels into the each end for her to use to tie it closed. It took about an hour to make. It functioned pretty well as an actual belt keeping her pants in place, so I was happy, and she could focus on looking after my brother.

After the belt was done I had maybe half the skein left and decided to make it into a earwarmer. Well it turned out that I did not have quite enough so instead it turned out to be more of a head band. I made the pattern up as I went along and I will share it here as I remember it. I didn't write it out. I made it to have a larger forehead area and thinner around the back of the head.

Finished head band on my lovely model!
Chain 81, turn and sc 80 across. Slip stitch into the first to form a large loop. This should fit snugly around your head. Add more or take some away if needed.
Row 2 and 3: sc 30, hdc 20, sc 30 (80)
Row 4 and 5: sc 30, dc 20, sc 30 (80)
At this point yarn was dwindling and I thought I should start wrapping this thing up. Otherwise I might have done at least 4 more rows of this for the thickness to cover ears.
Row 6: sc 30, hdc 20, sc 30 (80)
At this point I noticed I was really running out or I would have done another row of hdc I think.
Row 7: sc 80 around
Bind off.

I had just a tiny bit left after that and decided to make up a flower embellishment to add to it. I used this flower pattern by skip to my lou that I had saved in my Evernote, but did the entire thing in the same blue color of the headband. I then sewed it on to the band at the end of the larger section. This took about one hour as well and just as I finished my brothers girlfriend came and decided to wear it. :)

So there you go. Hospital visits are great places to work on crochet projects, planned or otherwise.