October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

A bit late I know, but I wanted to share my costumes for this year!

Obviously it isn't super on model but I think it gets the idea across well and is recognizable! I wore this Halloween day to Chipolte to get my $3 burrito and to the school football game. Turned out this coat is not warm and we had some of the first cold weather in Texas that night.

With my blue hair, a little makeup with added freckles, and a few pieces of clothes I think the transformation was pretty good. I will have to keep an eye out for yellow rainboots and a stone with a hole in it, though.

Yellow Rainjacket from L.L. Bean
Navy Camisole and Navy and White Stars sweater from Old Navy (from 4th of july season)
Dark wash Jeans from Target
Polka dot Rainboots from Target
Dragonfly hairclip made by me from felt, hot glue and a clip
A Little Me made by a good friend (made to really resemble real life me)
Crazy Gloves made by me

My Little Me did not have a raincoat, so I made one for her in about an hour and a half.
Two tiny sleeves, a body and a hood, sewed together, made for one cute tiny coat.

So there you go! A little money, a little work and a little wardrobe plundering equals a pretty good costume!

Oh and here's a pic of the pup! She's a skele-dog this year. It glows in the dark too. Got it last year on clearance at wal-mart for like $2. :)
So spoopy.
Saturday, the 1st we had a belated party because I really do like to have a Halloween bash. We have a great fire pit in the yarn and the cooler temps made it a really pleasant time. Since my Coraline outfit was dirty, I decided to throw together a second costume for the party.

I know most of you will not have seen the anime, Chobits, but it has robot girls called Persocoms. They have these big robot ears and are often dressed up. So I threw on my ears that I made, several years ago, from two pieces of craft foam. I used a clear bra strap and some bobby pins to keep them on my head and added a large flower to keep the strap hidden and add to the dressed up feel.

I went a little heavier on the make up than I normally do. I had shades of purple, blue and gray eyeshadow on and managed to line my whole eye. I also used a blue soft eyeshadow pencil to color my brows blue! A little pink lipstick completed the look.

I collect kimonos and this one is a purple pattern with cranes. It is a lighter one made of washable cotton (important since I was sitting around a fire all night). I had a yellow accent wrap and my bright green patterned obi to complete the look. It was really fun to do this look. Perhaps I will wear this out to an anime convention sometime... anyway.

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween.

October 27, 2014

Aviator Hat

A good friend is planning family costumes for Halloween and asked for an "Amelia Earhart" style hat and goggles. I already had a great looking, free pattern on hand for an Aviator Hat by Repeat Crafer Me. I also already had all the colors I would need on hand. So we decided to make a child's size so her daughter could use it for the foreseeable future.

finished hat!
This pattern was quick and easy. I had no trouble making the hat, adding the earflaps and edging it in a chunky ivory (think it is Homespun). The hat itself took about 3 hours to finish.

The goggles took another hour to make and one more to sew it on and add the strap. For the eye rings and the strap you use something called the surface slip stitch. This is a truly great way to add lines and shapes to crochet! I am so happy to have this skill now, as I look back on a lot of projects that this would have helped with.

I kind of feel like my child's size came out a little too large, since it fits my head comfortably, but I used the same type of yarn and hook as recommended. So maybe kids are tiny adults... I guess it is ok since it will now fit her forever!

Overall this is a stellar pattern that could be modified to be just about any kind of hat. Perfect for stash busing too, as I used a brown that I had less than half a skein of and still had some leftover.

Time to complete: 5 hours
Difficulty: Super easy

UPDATE: Check out the adorable picture taken by her mom, Christine Coleman!

Update 2: Check out this cute picture that I took, used with permission:

October 20, 2014

Twisted Yarns

Went to visit my siblings in Houston for an evening dinner, but on the way back I stopped in at a small yarn store in Old Town Spring about 30 minutes north of Houston proper. I went with the idea of perhaps finding a good quality, not too expensive, dk weight yarn, but when you need almost 2,000 yards of something it is pretty much impossible to find in a store.

Twisted Yarns was pretty cool all around. They had a small table for groups and looks like they have classes and meet ups. While I was there a lady came in and had one of the workers help her figure out a pattern she was in the middle of working on, which just seemed so helpful. They also can order anything you find online for you in bulk and ship it, which I might just have to do for the project I have in mind.
I was standing near clearance (far left side) and Noro yarns (far right side).
The staff was really knowledgeable and helpful. This being the third yarn store I have been to, I can't help compare it to the two others now I have visited. (Hill Country and Madtosh Crafts) It is smaller than both other stores, but seems to have the same amount, if not a little more, yarn than Madtosh. They carried a lot of the specialty hand dyed brands like Noro and Koigu, but also some more reasonably priced brands like Berroco.
They had a winder out for everyone to use. Here we see tons of sock yarns.
They also have a cool loyalty program where you get $20 off once you have spent a $200, which is pretty easy to do. That is the kind of thing that will ensure I stop by every time I go down and back to Houston. They also give you a cute tiny measuring tape, which is a nice touch.
The white desk in the center is the check out by the door, beyond that is the table area. Great selection of hooks!
Since they didn't have anything I wanted to use for the big project, I looked around for stuff for smaller projects. Found a manly gray for some gloves for a friend. Also found some really nice sport weight yarns. I got three colors with the thought that I would use them for gloves, perhaps for presents at some point. All the yarn is by Cascade Yarns, which I did not realize till I got home. The three brown, white and tan are 220 Superwash Sport and the gray is Heritage sock yarn. Even though they were in different sections, I guess I know what I like.
My purchases came out to about $32.00. Not bad!
Overall, this was a friendly, great little store and I will be back when I pass through.

October 13, 2014

Santa Fe Winter Goodies

New commission promt: Hat and Scarf for sister at an art school in Santa Fe

There is no part of this prompt that I am not loving. As an art history major and someone who adores the city of Santa Fe I was all about this. After a little more discussing I looked through my pattern collection and decided upon a hat and scarf that I think would be perfect. The client agreed and off we went!

The hat I am basing on this amazing Rainbow Beanie. I don't have all those exact colors on hand but figured that what I did have would be close and still come out bright and colorful. I say "base off" because after reading through what she did, I needed to make some changes for my own sanity and clarity. For the scarf I decided it would look lovely if I made this Lion Brand Flower Blossom Scarf in the same colors palette as the hat.

After looking through my stash and comparing to the beanie color pallet I ended up with this selection of yarns. They are all worsted weight and about the same thickness and feel. I used a 5.00mm H hook and started on the hat.

As the beanie is based off a granny square type pattern, I figured it would not be hard to do myself. A few other changes from the inspiration beanie is that I did not make earflaps, and I made it a little longer to cover at least the top part of the ears. I tried it on after a few extra rounds at the bottom before the edging to make sure it would fit right for an adult.

Once again, I find that crochet is a learning experience. After getting 9 rounds into the hat, I realized it was pretty loose on me. Meaning it would certainly be on anyone else. So I had to rip the whole thing out and start over with a smaller hook.
Scrapped at this point. Too wonky. Too large.
I switched to a 4.25mm G hook. I also took the opportunity to raid my local Joann's, take advantage of their sale, and get new yarn. Mainly because several of the original yarns I picked are what I now consider to be "crap yarn". Pardon my french. But a regular Red Heart Super Saver yarn just feels awful to my hands after working on such nicer yarns more recently. Too scratchy... I wouldn't want it on my neck no matter how cute the scarf turned out.

New color palette (new yarns are Bernat Satin since I had a few colors in that already on hand):
Similar yarns means a nicer finished product. There is a dark gray after that light gray too...

Granny Rainbow Beanie (4.25mm G hook)
Note: Throughout I will be referring to three dc in a row as a double crochet cluster (dcc) to keep reading this from being a nightmare. A (vdcc) is two sets of three dc separated by a chain. It is used to increase each round until reaching the desired size. Don't forget to change colors at the end of every round! And to be clear: every single cluster has a chain between it.

R1. (yellow) MC, Chain 3, 2dc into loop, make 4 dcc and secure with slip stitch to first. Change color. (5 dcc)
R2. (orange) Chain 3, 2dc in same space, chain 1, dcc in same space as first, *ch1, vdcc*, join last to first at second dc of first dcc on each round going forward. Change color! (10 dcc)

R3. (Red) Chain 3 in first opening, 2dc in same space, ch, dcc in same space forming a vdcc, *ch, dcc, ch vdcc* (15 dcc)
R4. (pink) Chain 3 in first opening, 2dc in same space, ch, dcc in next space, ch, vdcc, *ch, dcc, ch, dcc, ch, vdcc* (20 dcc) (each side has 2dcc, one vdcc)

R5. (purple) Chain 3 in first opening, 2dc in same space, *ch, dcc, ch, dcc, ch, dcc, ch, vdcc* (25 dcc) (each side has 3dcc and one vdcc repeated around)
R6-13. Chain 3 in first opening, 2dc in same space, *dcc* around  (25 dcc) changing color at the end of each round. Note: at this point omit the chains between each set to have a tighter fit, or keep them in for a slightly larger size. (light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, khaki, light gray, dark gray, yellow again)
R14 -19. Chain 1 and sc around to make an edge. Change colors as you like, or not at all. (I did two of orange, red, pink) (74 or so stitches around)
Hat for the order.

While making the hat, I made a second one at the same time to send off as a gift for another colorful person in my life. So her hat got a different brim since I wanted more colors!!! The last rows are one each of orange, red, pink, purple, blue, dark blue, light green and a hdc row of dark green to give it some finality.
Second hat for a friend.

On to the Lion Brand Flower Blossom Scarf ... or rather... not at all.
After reading through this pattern I saw that they wanted you to double up the yarn and use a giant 13mm hook. I didn't feel like buying a new hook, and more importantly, balling up all my yarn colors into two balls so I could carry two strands. That would take forever by hand.

So instead it became my inspiration piece and I found a flat flower pattern that I could use my normal yarn, one strand and the same G hook on. I just did an image search and really liked the look of this simple Maybelle crochet flower pattern.

I made my first flower with an orange center and yellow outside rows, but decided it was a bit normal. So I made a second in three colors. One color for the first row, a second for rows 2-3, and a third for the 4th final row. With three colors it looked a lot closer in nature to the every row color change of the hat and felt much more in keeping.

Each flower takes about 25 minutes to make. I used the order of the colors in the hat to determine the sets of three colors from which to make into flowers. That way I knew that I would use them all at least once. With 12 colors in the hat, I got 12 flower made. The blossom scarf needed 16 of the motifs, so I added two extra colors (dark orange and light purple) so that I could make up 4 more with other color combinations. Each flower is unique in color and order. (About 7 hours to make all flowers and join)

I joined each flower as I went along, using the center stitch of each petal (last row) to join to the one before it. There are a lot of methods but basically before the 4th double crochet I slipped the middle stitch of the previous flower onto my hook and completed the 4th double crochet of the new flower around it. I did this for two petals on each flower to have a sturdy join between each.
Hat and Flower Scarf
Once they were all joined I noticed they started curling in when worn. So my husband suggested I made a backing for them and sew em down to it. Not an awful idea that. So I made a quick rectangle scarf to be a backer. Took about 5 hours to make the backer part.

Ribbed DC Scarf (needed about a skein and a half of brown)
Chain 15 plus 2 to turn.
Double crochet 15 across.
Chain 2, double crochet across in back loops only.
Repeat till reaching the length desired. The back loop double crochet give the scarf a little texture.

I then used a sc to finish the edges and attach two stitches from the side petals of the flowers. I left a long tail to sew down the center of each flower a bit. Once I started attaching them I go to the end and realized that I had space left on my scarf, and I started at the wrong end to rip some rows out. So I made up an 17th flower and added it to the leftover space. It was just enough to not make it look strange.
One more flower.
The finished size of the scarf was 78 inches long and 4 inches wide.
I also added another two rows of brown to the brim of the hat to tie it together.
Scarf (so you can see the texture) and finished hat with brown row added.
Made the scarf really nice, warm, and thick. Which is good, because as my husband also pointed out the scarf of flowers only had a lot of holes in it which isn't really warm. Together they are super happy. Perfect for snowy days or with a light jacket. So glad I got to make these.
Better pic of the finished scarf.
Total time: 25 hours total - 10 for the hat with restarting and making two at the same time, 15 hours for the scarf
Difficulty: Easy

October 10, 2014

Crazy Gloves

Last post I mentioned I bought some colorful new yarn for a new project based on an inspiration piece... that inspiration is Coraline's crazy gloves!
Those tiny gloves were really hand knitted by the same lady who made her star sweater. O.O
Those bright, striped gloves have stuck with me, and yes you can buy more accurate versions on Etsy, but I wanted to test a fingerless glove pattern and thought I could make myself a pair at the same time.

The Koigu yarn I bought was really spot on color wise I thought (if a little brighter). Same tones of orange, yellow, green and gray. Yes, it would not make the same kinds of stripes, but I am already getting away from their actual look since my pattern has open fingers too. That's ok. Hence Inspiration Piece.

The Koigu yarn...
Scrapped: Arched Cuffs pattern... too small I think.
The pattern I first tested is Arched Cuffs Fingerless Mitts by Cascade Yarns, I found it just doing a google search and since it was free I thought I would give it a go. Unfortunately, their "average woman's hand" size did not look like it was going to fit once I got about 7 rows into the pattern. I tried slipping it on and even though I could get it past my knuckles and to sit on my wrist it was a very tight fit. So, worried that I would put hours in and not have a product that I could use I decided to stop and try another. Now that I look back perhaps it could have been ok with a larger hook size as it called for a D hook and in the next pattern I used and E hook.

So I decided to go back to the first pattern I found for half finger gloves by PlayingwithFiber on Etsy. This one has two sizes so I know I can make the larger size and be assured it will fit. It's probably what I should have done from the start...
About halfway through, no thumb yet...
I had a little trouble with the foundation double crochet as it was new to me, but quickly picked it up after watching the video she links to. I am not sure why you couldn't just do a chain and then double crochet into it, like you might with other patterns, but I do like the way it turned out because it looks very polished. It was nifty to learn something new. Her modified half double crochet was also pretty cool and not too hard to master. It is important to know that the modified half double is not the same on both sides. There is a textured side and a smooth side, so I simply made sure the smooth was on the inside of the glove.
Almost done. Second needed knuckles and four fingers.
Although the variegated yarn did not stripe like I hoped it might, I think they came out great and will look lovely with the yellow raincoat I ordered... Even if they are a tiny bit too tight on me. Perhaps at some point I will make more accurate versions if I can find solid colors that match the movie gloves.
Kind of reminds me of the cover of a VHS or Beta cd...
Time to complete: 5 hours (10 hours for the pair then)
Difficulty: Intermediate

BTW, my 50g skein was more than enough for these both, so much so that I made a new chain for my yarn cutter out of the same pattern as the bracelet for my mom, just shorter.

After that I had a small ball... too much to throw away for sure. Not enough for much of anything... but maybe... a Headband!! Couldn't get one made that I liked though, so maybe I'll just make a few more long chains like this and wear em in the summer.

Also, one final note: From here on out, updates will be Monday only. That gives me more time to work on projects between posts and lets me keep up a nice buffer time. That means I can get ambitious or work on longer projects!

October 6, 2014

Modtosh Crafts Store

Finally got around to going to the only actual yarn store in Fort Worth: Madtosh Crafts
UPDATE: Madtosh Crafts has closed as of December 2015. *insert sobbing here*

My sister in law and I went, as she needed to pick out yarn for a hat I am planning to make her for a christmas present. I of course went along to help color choices and to see their selection.

I was going with one real goal in mind, which was to see if they had any Berroco Weekend DK yarn to add to my triangle crocodile shawl which is a bit small. Unfortunately, they did not carry that brand at all, so that project will still get to wait to be done.

Entry way view to the back of the store.

The store is a pretty good size and has a lovely sitting area and tables. The selection seems to be exclusively yarn that is hand spun, hand dyed or both. That makes it a bit of an advanced selection in my opinion as most hand made yarns have lots of little wispy bits and bumps that makes quick smooth crocheting hard. They also tend to felt together really fast, making ripping out and starting over not possible.

The other side effect of all hand made yarns is that they are all pretty pricy. That kept me from buying everything I saw, because when spending that much for yarn I want to absolutely love the colors and know that the pattern I am making is a good one. I don't want to end up with another shrug that I won't wear...

From the back corner to the front.

With that said, I still managed to want a lot of what they carried. The colors were amazing and some of the textures were just lovely to feel. I know that when I feel more comfortable in my skills (and have more spending money) that I could graduate to some of those yarns.

They also had a few books, a lot of knitting accessories like bags and tools and scissors. Of course they had a good selection of hooks and needles as well... some with really cool looking ergonomic handles.
Koigu yarn in Painters Palette

I did leave with one small skein of yarn for my own reasons. It is Koigu Wool Designs brand. Color is "Painter's Palette" meaning each dye lot is hand painted and different: P128 dye code and lot 106. It is 100% Merino Wool and is hand wash only. It is a very fine weight yarn as it takes a 3mm hook. At 50 grams, it had just enough yardage to work up the pattern I had in mind. The colors were about as close as I think I could find to my inspiration piece. At $14.00 I didn't feel like I was spending too much either. Next post will be about what I made with it.