November 24, 2014

Purple Cabled Hat

So I have this lovely purple puffy vest. It is perfect for Texas winter, which tends to be chilly, but not too cold for most of the season. So a long sleeve shirt, this vest and jeans is a great go-to outfit for comfort and just enough warmth. I don't really have a hat to match it though, and I often want a hat since I have short hair.

Enter the Chunky Cabled Slouchy Beanie by AllAboutAmi. I love this blog and follow it religiously, but I have not, until now!, made anything. Wanting to change that, I thought this hat would look lovely in a purple color to match my vest.

I had a coupon for Jo-ann's and they did not carry the Loops and Threads brand, so I instead used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick in Eggplant. It is the same weight, a super bulky size 6, so I figured it would be just as good. After working with this same yarn in black for the Toboggan Hat I new it would be comfy!

Since I like a slouchy hat I stuck with the 10mm hook. I think my head must be larger than hers, since I ended up adding two more rows to the band (32) to make sure it wasn't too tight on me. I seamed up the band with slip stitches.

Since I did not bind off I could work straight into the hat. Working 30 dc into those 32 rows was odd. So instead of going down to 30dc, I went up to 36 dc and added another cable. I did 7 sc and then an increase around to get the 36 dc.

For the cabling, is really is very helpful if you take a look at her step by step pictures from her previous post on cabling with crochet. It is also super important to realize that in the first row where the stitches criss cross that you are doing front post TREBLE crochets... I made this hat twice and had to start over because I was doing those crossed with double crochets and it made it way too tight. Don't make my mistake! Also, even though rows 3 and 4 are written the same way, they are not performed the same way, which is majorly important to keeping the look of the cables.
Just before closing it up.
I stopped one row before she did, to make it a tiny bit lighter since I did want to add the pom. To close it up, I simply left a long tail and went in and out of the last row of the two back post stitches. That left the top looking a bit like a 6 petaled flower. Yes, there were 6 open holes there, but it was so tight, that it looked fine. Plus with the addition of the giant pom it wasn't an issue.

I have only ever made a pom out of baby yarn before and I used the fork method. With such bulky yarn I used the same tutorial, but with a cut in half paper towel roll. I do see what she means about it being a top heavy hat, but I like to wear it pulled down over my ears, and don't have too much of a problem.

Difficulty: Intermediate, easy if you know how to front and back post crochet
Time to complete: 5 hours

Update: Here is a picture of it on me with the jacket I mentioned. You might notice I have the brim folded up, since it does stretch a lot. That helps to keep it on my head more firmly.

Update 2: Made a second one following the pattern more closely for a friend. Turned out great and was able to make in with just one skein and a tiny bit leftover from the last one.

November 17, 2014

Toboggan Hat

You might remember that I made a stunningly manly viking hat for my husband. I think he looks very dashing in it...
Photo by Angie Vo
However, he asked that I perhaps make him another without the horns that he might wear more often when it is cold. I guess that is understandable. So rather than just make the same pattern again I decided to try Lion Brand's Toboggan hat. It is a free pattern if you have an account, as you might already know.

I went out and bought a skein of their Wool-Ease Thick and Quick in Black and a shiny new 10.00
mm hook, as I did not own one. A about three hours later I had a new hat for him!

This is a truly great beginner project as it introduces you very nicely to chains, working in the round, increasing, and the single crochet stitch. Plus the large hook makes it very easy to see your work, which is something that I found very helpful when I first started to crochet.

The alternation of the direction of the rows makes for an interesting thick row look.

I did slightly modify the pattern, so I will share how...
Instead of earflaps as written on the pattern, I made it a little bit longer in the head. I kept going repeating the sc around rows until the hat was about 8.5 inches long from the crown to the bottom, rather than 8. Then in the next row where you only do 24 sc around and then turn, I just kept repeating that row of 24 along the back side, for 4 rows total. That way my hat would cover both the ears and the nape of the neck, as with the other pattern I had made.

I also left off the pom at the top as he thought it a bit silly. This hat is warm, thick and a classic.
Grab a skein next time it is on sale and be sure to make one!

Time to complete: 3 hours
Difficulty: Beginner

November 10, 2014

Autumn Diamonds Gloves

Found this pattern for Autumn Diamonds gloves when looking around Ravelry for half finger glove patterns. I filed it away for later use because the only drawback to crochet, is that it is not knit. There are just so many darn cool patterns for knit and some of the most intricate and coolest, I think, are Fair Isle patterns. So when I saw someone actually make something close in crochet, I HAD to try it out.

I got a coupon in the mail for yarn, went to Joann's, and found something suitable. It calls for a 3 weight yarn and I went with Patons Silk Bamboo in Sapphire, Stone and Ivory. These are 50g skeins and it should have been enough to do both gloves in the pattern as called for, but you in fact need more like 100g of the "base" color you want to use. It is slick and shiny and I thought it would feel lovely on. Obviously, I have chosen different colors than the pattern... One thing to note, the pattern calls for a 4mm hook, but I used a G marked 4.25mm**. That I thought would help keep my stitches looser to be able to work into.
Paton's Silk Bamboo
I had to slightly rework her chart colors to make sure I knew what I was doing. It was a pretty simple matter in Numbers (Mac excel) after I changed the grid size around. And it gave me an idea of how they might turn out looking. I decided to do the blue as the base and have the pattern in the ivory and stone.

This pattern, right off the bat, gave me a lot of trouble and I couldn't get two rows in without having to rip it out. The start is a chain and sc (she used the term "UK dc" which is the same as a US sc) into it like a lot of patterns. It is worked in the round as well. The knit look of these gloves comes from something called the Waistcoat Stitch.

Now perhaps it is the yarn I am using, but I could not find the spot on the post of the single crochets to work into. You have to work into the v of the post to make the waistcoat stitch. I watched several videos and studied all her pictures and just couldn't find it on my work. Perhaps I work too tightly too. Or my G hook has too big of a return and not a pointy enough head...

I started over the fourth time and decided to take a nod from my crazy gloves and start with a foundation row single crochet, rather than chaining and working into it. It certainly made my first row look much nicer and neater. When joining this foundation row you need to use your tail to close that first chained edge to get the circle nice and neat. After the foundation sc row, I did another row all the way around of sc, joining with a slip stitch and chaining one at the end. This way I had a clean row of sc to try to work the waistcoat stitch into.

This time it was a bit easier to see the v of the post, but it was still a gigantic pain to get the hook in, let alone pull up a loop. It was super slow going. I got through the first full design with little trouble, but switching colors every three stitches made the work even slower.

Still, I had no idea how tough it would be until I got into the rows of the diamond design. By the first rows of white I had a lot of trouble making sure I was switching colors on the right stitches. I printed out my sheet to try to make sure I was doing it right. It is tricky since only a few of the rows in the diamond pattern are repeating color change wise.

After I did the first full set of three white rows, I decided to simplify the pattern immensely.

I really like the scaled down version. It seems cleaner, and I love that the negative space of the blue looks like hearts. Obviously I am now worried that by removing so much of the secondary stone color that I will run out of blue yarn.

The fabric you create with this stitch is so thick and stiff, it is kind of amazing. there are virtually no holes or spaces as in most crochet fabrics. I was also worried that carrying the yarn along the inside would make it tough to put on and wear, but you change color so frequently that is it tightly controlled. And the places where you don't change color gets bound up inside the next row of stitches.
35 rows in on the left, right is what the inside looks like
At this point I had competed row 35 and now had to start working on the thumb gusset , while maintaining the pattern and switching into rows of stone color accents. For the thumb area, you are adding a stitch at the beginning and end of each row. This meant that at the full width of the thumb, I had 14+9+8 stitches of blue in a row. I decided then for those rows to cut the gray at the end of each row in order to have that thumb gusset as tangle free as possible.

Pattern wraps all the way around. :)
A single glove took me almost two months of working. I stopped and rested a lot since it is really tough on your hands if you don't have a sharp topped hook. And sometime it took a full minute to get the hook into the right place. I'm easily guessing 30 hours for one single glove.

At the time of posting this, I actually only have one glove made. I plan to make the second glove in the reverse accent colors, blue base but where there is stone(gray), use ivory(white) and vice versa. And I did run out of blue though making this single glove, so I will have to get another skein of the Sapphire to complete the pair.

Unfortunately, after all this work, the glove does not fit. Sure I managed to get it on, but it is like a contortioner's trick to fold my hand in on it self and pull it on over my thumb. This yarn and stitch has no stretch or give to it whatsoever. So I kind of have no motivation to make the second to match... unless I can find someone it fits on, who wants it, and is willing to pay for them.
Fits like a ... vice.
I have another set of three yarns, that I wanted to make a second set in as a gift. However, with such a tough pattern, I might not. But now that I have a grid to work from, I could make these with just about any design I could think of. Pretty cool.

If I ever sell these, they would totally fall at the more expensive end of the price spectrum.

Difficulty: Hard
Time to complete a pair: about 60 hours

**Note on G Hooks: Fun Fact: I found out while working on this pattern that old G hooks, like the ones I got from a garage sale, are 4.25mm, while new ones that you get in the store today are 4.00mm. So please do check your hook and just make sure you make both gloves with the same size. I can't find a reason for the size change, maybe manufacturers just wanted to keep it uniform in the size increases, but now you know. :)

November 3, 2014

Gloves: Round Two

So those Crazy Gloves are pretty cute, but they are also pretty tight.

With that in mind the next time I had a friend over, who is pretty petite, I asked her to try them on. She also found them to be very tight on. So I guess it isn't just me. She also asked for a pair of her own and having a few skeins of sock yarn on hand I was able to start on a pair the next day... with a few changes...

The yarn used is a Paton's Kroy sock yarn. It is self striping and is called "Brown Striped Ragg". Pretty sure it is discontinued since it was in clearance and is not on their website.

I decided to go with an even larger hook on the pattern than suggested. For a small/medium you used a D hook, large use an E hook... I used an F hook (3.75mm) for this new "extra-large." It has made the stitches a bit farther apart, but gives it some much needed stretch.

Finished gloves. Love the solid fingers.
There really is not a visible difference in the size between my crazy ones and these, but I can tell that the increased hook size made a big difference in how it fits. These gloves are still pretty annoying to take off, though. I hypothesize that the thinness of the yarn and the shortness of the fingers is the reason. But I had her try them on and they do indeed fit much better on her as well.

Perhaps the next next time I do these I will use a 2 weight yarn, as opposed to sock (a 1 weight) yarn, with the F hook to keep the gaps smaller.

Difficulty: Still pretty easy once mastering the two unique stitches.
Time to complete: 8 hours, cause I was lazy about it.