January 26, 2015

Purple Cable Earwarmer

Came across a new idea which fit perfectly into a need I have been thinking about.

I love my chunky purple cabled hat, but I am finding that it is perhaps too warm for the times when I am also wearing the puffy vest. That prompted me to think that perhaps an ear-warmer might be a better option for cooler (but not cold) weather.

I saw this cabled headband by Jennifer of Brome Fields online somewhere and I saved it the picture, thinking I could totally make it in crochet. If you knit, the pattern is free on her blog at that link.

Like most hat bands, I knew to make it about 20 inches long. I had about a half of a skein of the same Lion Brand Wool Ease in Eggplant left over and got out a J hook. I based my pattern off the cabled scarf idea I had for a toddler as well as the original cabled patterns by AllAboutAmi, but made it less stitches wide.

Chunky Cable Ear Warmer

Stitches used: **Please look these up if you do not know them.**
bldc: back loop double crochet, work into loop on the top furthest away from you
fldc: front loop double crochet, work into loop on the top closest to you
bpdc: back post double crochet, work around post of dc in previous row, inserting hook from backside around
fpdc: front post double crochet, work around post of dc in previous row, inserting hook from front around
fptc: front post treble crochet, used only in Row 1! for the crossover of the cables, work a treble crochet around from front of previous dc

To start:
Chain 12, turn and dc in second chain from hook, 10 dc across.

Note: dc at the beginning and end of each row are worked in back loops/front loops only to get ribbed look on the right side. Also, after each row number it says (R) right or (W) wrong, which indicates which side of the piece is facing you when working that row. This is to make sure all of the cable is kept on the right side of the piece to face out.
Rows 1-6
Chain 2 and turn at the end of each row.
Row 1 (R): 3 bldc, skip next 2 dc, 2 fptc in next 2 dc, go back and work 2 fptc in ones skipped, 3 bldc
Row 2 (W): 3 fldc, 4 bpdc, 3 fldc
Row 3 (R): 3 bldc, 4 fpdc, 3 bldc
Row 4 (W): 3 fldc, 4 bpdc, 3 fldc
Row 5 (R): 3 bldc, 4 fpdc, 3 bldc
Row 6 (W): 3 fldc, 4 bpdc, 3 fldc
Start over at row 1
**** I repeated the set of 6 rows four times total. After that it was close to the length I wanted so I did three more rows of the cable, rather than starting over a fifth time. This is because I did not want a crossed row, one cable row and then only to seam it closed right next to the first crossed row. So I made the last cable length longer. If you are making this for a larger head, you might feel ok starting over a new set.
Close the ends together with a whipstitch.

I don't think this is a hard pattern, but there are things that make it challenging. Personally I needed to move my cursor over the row I was working on to make sure I kept each cable section the same length. It was also essential that I paid attention to the front and back loop cues to make sure I got the edge ribbing on the right side of the piece as well. 

I love the thickness both of the yarn and of the piece itself as it covers my ears perfectly. I think this will be a perfect solution for those not quite cold days to need a full hat.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time to complete: 1.5 hours

January 19, 2015

Crocodile Stitch Cardiagn

Along with the crocodile stitch shawl, I got a pattern for a Crocodile Stitch Cardigan from Bonita Patterns on Etsy.

I spent a few weeks looking for a yarn that I really liked to work it in. I ended up getting the same yarn as called for in the pattern, Caron Simply Soft in Bone. I kind of feel like this is going to make the entire thing too heavy, but for a sweater like this, maybe heavy is good. The last time I used this yarn, I only used 5 skeins of it and made the lace tunic with it, and that thing is so bulky I cannot fit it in a drawer, and have not worn it. This pattern calls for 6 skeins to make the "medium" 1X-2X size. I really wanted to go with something lighter (maybe a DK weight) but trying to find almost 2000 yards of something, in the same color dye lot is tough. I really bought this yarn because it was on sale at Jo-ann's, and I had a coupon. The total yarn cost was just over $30, which is kind of amazing for such a large piece.

So hesitations aside, lets get into the meat of this pattern. The basic construction seems to be a lot like the Open Air Shawl I made in the past. I didn't really care for that piece, but perhaps the larger size and the more cuddly nature of this pattern will make it a winner.

You start, as with most items, with a chain and then go back and work stitches into it. Once again I decided to skip this and work the first two rows instead as a foundation double crochet. You can find tutorials on how to do this all over, and I find that the starting edge is a lot cleaner and you can see that it leaves a nice set of loops at the bottom. I always have trouble picking up both loops from a chain to work into, so I usually only use one, which tends to leave the bottom edge full of holes.
top is foundation dc, bottom is regular chain method
The body is so simple and you don't even need to look at the pattern to work it up. Coming from tiny and complicated stitches from my last few projects, it was a breath of fresh air to work on such a straightforward piece. The body took me about 20 hours to finish over two weeks or so. It took about 3 skeins to do the body, sew up the sides and outline the bodice.
Finished Body
Once the body is done you work on the detailed bodice area around the opening and the sleeves. It is those fantastic crocodile shells that really make this piece into something special. Since I already had plenty of experience making them from the shawl, once again I had little need to reference the pattern, except to start the foundation row for the scales.
Scales on the bodice in progress.
Finished Sleeve
Overall this pattern is wonderfully written and easy to follow. I feel like it would look great in many colors. However, I did not like how it fit on me. It was still a bit tight around the bodice and I wanted the sleeves to be longer, even though I made the 2x/3x size. It is just as snuggly as the pictures made it out to be, just for smaller people I guess. In this neutral color it could go with pretty much anything, whether it's just jeans or a little dress.

If you are interested in owning it, email me, as this sweater is for sale!

Time to complete: ~40 hours
Difficulty: Easy+ (once you've got crocodile stitch down it's a breeze)

January 12, 2015

Adventures in Cowls

So my sister in law loves to knit, but doesn't crochet much...she knows how, but her knit patterns take a long time, so she is always working on one or more. I crochet, but don't knit. It is pretty cool that way, because we both can make each other things and commiserate about the amount of work that goes into handmade items.

With Christmas rapidly approaching, we figured it would be a good present for me to make something her. She looked through her stash to see what she had that I could use, and to find a pattern that might work.

She came up with a pattern for a Textured Hooded Cowl by Jenny Collins and asked if I thought I could make it. After reading the description on Ravelry*, I figured it would be no problem.
*The pattern is only on Ravelry, as it is no longer in her Etsy store, but a Ravelry account is free. The pattern is not.
Unfortunately after working it up a bit, we did not like how it came out and I don't have any pictures to show. So we decided to tear it out and try something else.

We decided to find a better pattern for the DK yarn, as that first one called for worsted weight. We were unable to find more yarn in a purple Iris color, that she had on hand, so instead she picked a deep green called Forestry to match the gold Gilded color that she liked.
First few rows in new colors.
The new pattern is free and also from Ravelry. It is called the Sheffield Infinity Scarf by Kristina Olsen. This new pattern is super quick and uses a half double crochet where you work into the space not the top loops. The only difference I did with the pattern itself was to work it in the round so that I did not have to cut the yarn at the end of every row to switch colors. I found that with such a long piece I actually needed to use stitch counters to make sure that I did not drop or add any stitches at the seam area. I had done this twice and had to rip it out down to the first row before I got smart about it.
Close-up of the colors and pattern!!
Once again I feel like perhaps I am doing something wrong... I used the right size hook and yarn, and yet, once my piece was complete it was 5 inches tall by 56 inches long. That makes it smaller in both directions and I still had a ton of yarn left. It does stretch quite a bit and that allows it to stretch up to the finished size it says it ought to be, but I didn't think that would be the case. Either way I did not bind it off in case I needed to start over. Perhaps I just work too tightly...

I brought it by to try it out on her and see what she thought. We decided the length was ok a little short and that we could block it to make it be a little longer. I would also finish off the single skeins I had used to get closer to the target width of 6.5 inches.
Once the cowl was done I still had two full skeins of the gold and green, and she asked that I work up a few bands in the same pattern. (4.25mm hook) Two of which would be the basis of a pair of gloves at, 31 hdc long and 13 rows wide. The third band would be the edging of a hat and was 76 hdc long and 9 rows tall. These "blanks" she can now work knit patterns directly on to the open ends. The she would have a full matching set of accessories! Cool!!
Cuffs and Hat Band

Difficulty: Easy
Time to complete cowl: 15 hours
Cuffs: 3 hours for the pair
Hat Band: 2 hours

January 5, 2015

Francois Gloves

The reason I've been making so many gloves lately is because a friend who is a boy asked for a pair of half-finger gloves for himself. This is pretty cool since normally all my commissions are for girls, or are from a girl for another girl/baby/child, or for me.

The Crazy Gloves and the Round 2 Gloves were trial runs on the pattern for these. After making the other pairs I was able to get a running set of sizes going so I could figure out how to make them fit a guy.

He asked for ones in gray and at my recent trip to Twisted Yarns, I found a very handsome Charcoal gray wool sock yarn by Cascade Yarns called Heritage.

Using the F hook last time on the brown striped ones did make a larger size, but it was laughably too small for a guys hands. With that in mind I added 6 stitches (1 inch) to the starting row cuff to make it a bit larger around in all ways. From there I also added more cuff rows, another several rows to the palm height, and one to the finger length.

Basically I was trying to scale up the pattern in all ways proportionally. It was a little slow going, but I had him trace his hand so I had something to compare my work to, that helped to make sure the pattern might fit. I only did half of one glove and had him try it on next I saw him, to make sure I didn't do too much cutting of the yarn before I knew if it would really fit or not.
Stopped here for a fitting.
The fitting was good and bad. Firstly the width was perfect and fit nicely around his hand, however the length was really short. The textured cuff sat above his wrist on his actual hand, and the thumb was too close to the wrist. Basically I needed to add several more palm rows, which meant taking it apart back down to the cuff. So yay for fittings!

Since I was back at the cuff I decided to add a few more rows to the cuff to make it thicker. Then I added several more rows to the palm. I could then redo the thumb in the same way, but adding yet another row on it for length. I stopped again to have him try it on again.
Redone for second fitting.
I finished the glove up and waited for a chance to try it again. We had dinner before a party and he tried it on again. Better, but still too short to his thumb. So once again I took the thumb off, added a few rows and put the thumb back on. After doing so much lengthening of the piece I could safely assume I would need at least 10 rows from the thumb to the knuckles. But I wanted to be sure I could move on so I waited again for a third fitting.

"Friendsgiving" rolled around and I brought the work with me. I had him keep trying it on after I completed each section of work. That was smart, we needed to add more palm rows, and my guesses on knuckle area was too large. Made the rest of the fingers up and actually completed one glove at the party so that I had a finished pattern to make the second from.
Glove number 1 done!
At home it took me working a little bit on it over two days, maybe 5 hours, to complete the second one.
Glove number 2!
With so much alteration to the pattern that I bought for these originally I feel like I am not really helping you out to make some for the men in your life, but at the same time I don't want to violate any wishes. Sorry about that.

I have to say that this yarn was really amazing. It it nice and soft and perfect for these gloves. They will look very handsome with black or gray winter wear. These do look a little weird flat like this so maybe I can get a picture of them in action sometime. :)

Difficulty: The gloves aren't a tough pattern, but altering it to fit properly was a pain. Intermediate.
Time to complete: about 15 hours for the first, 5 for the second.

Update: Picture obtained!