November 30, 2015

Sibling Set 2

A friend of my mom, from her bunco group, is having a baby boy. She also has a young daughter, and so my mom thought it would be nice to have a set of items made. We did something similar before for a set of three siblings. She requested a blanket for the new baby boy and a scarf for the daughter.
the finished set
I went through my stash, which has quite a large selection of baby yarns that I have been given, to see what would look nice together. I didn't have enough of one kind of yarn to make a full blanket, but I found a complimentary set of blues. I had nearly a full skein of the lighter one which I decided to use for the main body of the blanket and then use the darker to edge it. I could then use this darker yarn and another to tie into the sisters scarf.
leftover stash yarns to use up
Since I was not sure how much of the light yarn I had, I wanted a pattern that would start in the center and work out so I could see the finished size if I ran out. I figured that meant I would need to make a pretty basic large granny square blanket. But while looking through my pattern Evernote notebook I decided instead to make the Starburst Baby Blanket instead by the blog Creative Jewish Mom. No I am not Jewish, and I am not sure how I found the pattern, but it was pretty, simple and elegant looking. Figured I could easily make the center in the light stuff and then do the same sort of border in my darker yarn. Plus it is a center out pattern just like I wanted.

I have no idea what brand this yarn is that I am using. It is very soft, and I am pretty sure is a baby yarn, but it is a very large skein for baby yarn. That means that a F 3.75mm hook would be probably be alright to use, but since the pattern called for a J 6mm hook, I sort of compromised at a H 5.00mm hook. I know this means my blanket will probably be a bit smaller, but it is a baby blanket.

left is the original join, right is the reworked join
Starting off is pretty standard, but after about 8 rows I realized I did not like how the join area was turning out, so I ripped it out back down to the second row and made each row start with a chain 4 and then slip stitching the end into the third chain making that same ch1 space more defined, like on the other three sides.

I also decided to just stick with the corner pattern we started with rather than alternating between the two corner patterns that she gives options for. This meant that I could fairly easily let my hands run on auto pilot, which was good since I was listening to an audio book which required I pay attention to follow the plot. I used up the entire light skein of yarn for the center.

The border was mostly the same as in the pattern, with rows of sc around to create a thick edging. I used up the larger of the two yarn balls of the darker blue. At this point I stopped the blanket and started the scarf for the sister.
Way to short and wide, so I redid the whole thing.
I used a contrasting variegated yarn for hers in pinks, purple, blues and greens and just did a simple double crochet scarf (pattern below) with two stripes and scalloped edging on each end to tie it into the look of the blanket. By working this scarf now, I could then use up the dark blue yarn needed for the scarf and then safely use the rest for the blanket. It is important to note that since the dark blue I was using was baby yarn also, I had to use two strands held together to get the same thickness as the worsted acrylic variegated girly yarn.

wide scallops
I then finished up the blanket with a few more single crochet border rows and a scalloped edging. The scallops I made cover more area by skipping two sc on each side of the 5dc instead of just one sc. I did this to make the yarn go father and somehow I feel wider scallops are less girly.

finished blanket
Of course when I was done I measured up both these items and realized they both came out a little on the small side. The blanket was fine really, a standard baby blanket is around 32"x32", and mine stretches out to that size easily (unstretched it is 28" x 28"). The scarf on the other hand is 35" long, which is about a foot shorter than the last ones I made. So I frogged the whole thing and reworked it to be 12 dc across instead of 15. Just that small change increased the length to 44" and the width to 4". I think that makes it a better width for shorter necks anyway.

I really like the finished set. The blanket is just interesting enough to not be boring but still is a very usable item. Sometimes I worry baby blankets are too fancy or too large and are intimidating to then want to use for messy kids.

Difficulty: Easy
Time to complete: 20 hours

Scarf Pattern:
1. In main color yarn, Foundation double crochet 12 across.
2. Chain 2 and Turn, 12 dc across. Switch to blue at end of row.
3. Chain 2 and Turn, 12 dc across in blue or accent color yarn. Switch to main yarn.
4-5. Chain 2 and Turn, 12 dc across in main yarn. Switch to blue yarn at end.
6. Chain 2 and Turn, 12 dc across in accent/blue yarn. Switch to main yarn.
7-77. Chain 2 and Turn, 12 dc across in main yarn.
78-81. Repeat rows 3-6 for other ends stripes.
82-83. Chain 2 and Turn, 12 dc across in main yarn.
Scallops: Switch to blue or accent color and ch 1. Skip 1, and do 5 dc in next, skip 1 and slip stitch in next. Repeat two more times across for a total of three shells on the end. Bind off.
Go back to other end, attach accent yarn and complete three shells on the other end. Bind off.
Work in ends to finish.

November 23, 2015

Brown Phryne Mitts

Lately I have been concerned that I am amassing too much yarn. I'm sure this is a concern shared by crocheters and knitters alike. I try not to buy yarn until I have a project in mind for it. However, I have been given a lot by friends. And if something is on clearance sale at Joann and I want it, I usually pick up a few skeins.

Starting off small though, I have one skein of Kroy Sock yarn in Flax. Not sure how it got here or why there is only one skein, when most pairs of socks take two skeins, but I started looking around Ravelry for what I could do with what I had.
the finished mitt
There was a pattern for a pair of gloves that caught my eye. The pattern is called Phryne Purple Mitts by Vintage Crafts. Unfortunately the pattern is in French and no one else has made any. The blog post on it does have a chart, in Japanese (but it does help), and being an intelligent person I could kind of piece out what the pattern said, but uncertainty makes for wonky items.

Luckily I attended an excellent college, full of interesting people, who like languages! One of my acquaintances happens to be a bit of a linguist and does knit and crochet too. So, a huge Thank You goes out to Beth, who translated the pattern for me and then proceeded to test it as well.
Next time I would start with a foundation single crochet. You can see the thumb opening here.
The pattern calls for a 3.00mm hook, but after testing it, Beth recommended a larger hook. I know I have larger hands and so I went up to a 3.75mm hook for these mitts. The yarn has a bit of stretch and so does the pattern, so you might be able to go with a 3.5mm hook, but I liked them a little roomier.
Finished mitt and finger opening. Arm detail next. Obvious where the thumb opening is. (it's the wonky rows)
The pattern itself is a tiny bit confusing but once you get that it is a grid it makes more sense. The arm opening has these lovely little flowery shapes with picots.
Arm opening detail
The pdf pattern download from the blog does not have instructions for a thumb, but her pictures do. So once the main body of each mitt was made I just sort of made up and added a thumb around the opening left for it and then added a few shells on top to make it match the finger opening.
Finished mitts!
One final thought is that her mitts look shorter to me than mine, which makes me wonder if perhaps next time I couldn't use half double crochets to make it a little more compact and warm.
Anyway, the pattern used up just about all of the yarn perfectly, just like I hoped.
One less skein on the pile.

Time to complete: 6 hours
Difficulty: Easy +
Finished size: 10" long from hand to arm opening, a little less than 8 inches around un-stretched, but expands to fit over arm and hand nicely.

November 16, 2015

Freelance Design

I was looking back through my folders and realized I actually do quite a bit of random freelance design. Whether it is family, friends or work acquaintances, it is a broad category. Since it is always something new, it really keeps me growing and thinking. Thought I would use this post to share a few.

Inspirational Gift: Teachers need gifts that are both meaningful and cost effective. A personal poem that you share with your class is a great way to do it. With a little creativity, the line you love, is art.
Wedding Invites: I was asked to mock up some designs for a county themed wedding. Figured I would just share the bare bones, but you can see that these were pretty cool.

Dinner Party Invites: My brother and his girlfriend love to have dinner parties. Since they both work for country clubs, these are legit parties complete with formal invites and menus.
Webcomic Logo: A friend started a comic and asked for help designing the logo for the comic as well as general art and blog tips. Unfortunately, life got in the way of his comic continuing, but it was fun.
T Shirt Logos: These were for a support group on a t-shirt. Simple two-color baseball design for the group Line Drives for Lilly.

There are quite a few more, but I think you get the idea. I like turning people ideas into more polished versions of themselves. This concludes the design posts for now. Hope you enjoyed seeing a little of what else I can do.

November 9, 2015

Show choir 2014-2015

You might remember that I helped out with making a logo for the show choir for the high school my husband works at in both 2012 and 2013. Even just between the two there is a progression I think. Well, I was asked to help out again this year.

The shirts would be white and I went with a simple two color blue scheme of the school royal blue and a teal to help it pop. It had to be good for male and female students to wear. I submitted a few design ideas for the front for them to choose from with their slogan for this year: "Here comes treble."

The back was to have the names of the students in a frame. I had the teacher collect signatures and then took them into Illustrator to clean up and organize. The frame I drew to resemble sheet music and added a music note font over to complete the look. Personally, I had thought of trying to make it actually be the notes for our school song, but in the end decided that would be a detail no one would get and would take a lot of time to do right.

In the end it came down between two front options.
The final design chosen was the one I liked best.
I hear the shirts were a big hit too. Always happy to hear good feedback.

November 5, 2015

OtGW Halloween Party

What's this?? A bonus post? Yes.

In addition to the costumes for Halloween, I decided to have a party. I then decided it needed a theme: Over the Garden Wall. If you haven't seen it, now is the perfect season. Just fyi, it is suitable for the whole family! To carry this theme off I decided to make a few decorative items and a corresponding menu of snacks.

You might remember hearing about OtGW when I made my very own Jason Funderburker frog a while back. Well it was easy to start planning from there. We watched the show again and I took extra notes, thinking about each episode and elements that I could incorporate into the party decor.

I have a piano, so Jason Funderburker sat proudly on top as he played it in the opening. A copy of Adelaide Parade, a song from the show, sheet music was printed out and set on the music stand. Along with our prized copy of Wirt's cassette tape For Sarah.

I purchased two chalkboard signs, one in a pumpkin shape with easel back, and a second shaped like an arrow. These I decorated with orange chalk. The pumpkin sign reads "Welcome to the Unknown" with elements of type and illustration referencing the title cards of each episode. The arrow became a "Pottsfield 1 mile" sign referencing the sign in the episode 2 leading to one of the more creepy episodes if you ask me.

Each room's main table had a centerpiece decoration as well, like a large pumpkin with lots of little glowing pumpkin lights for the town of Pottsfield and a small oil lamp and bundle of sticks for the woodsman.

One of the larger decorations I made was Enoch, also from episode 2.
I bought one of those "craft pumpkins", 2 yards of burlap, a few rolls of darker burlap wired ribbon, and a metal 12 inch wreath frame.  I used a dremel tool to cut the pumpkin. First, I cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin not too large but wide enough for my hand and added smaller holes around it which I would use to sew the burlap body to. I also drilled two holes in the stem and used floral wire to make a loop to be able to hang Enoch up.

I used two colors of felt I had on hand as well as a sheet of white craft foam to make the eyes, nose and mouth of his face. They were glued on using Fabri-tac glue which is really amazing for felt.
Once the head was complete, I let it all dry in place.

I cut my burlap into one long wide strip to form the core of the body, about 8" wide by 32" long, then into thinner strips to start layering it on along with sections of the ribbons. I sewed it all down to the flat burlap core then sewed that finished body onto the pumpkin head. Then I "sewed" the burlap and ribbon body to the bottom of the pumpkin to form his neck area with a short yarn needle and crochet thread. I did this because I figured that hot glue would not really work in any lasting way since the burlap body was so heavy. Once it was done I thought I would attach the burlap body ends to the wreath frame to weigh it down and not just flap around like a wind sock, but the burlap was heavy enough that I decided not to.

The food was also appropriately themed. I printed out small signs to go with the various foods:
We had a pond of gummy frogs, to be named by whomever picked one out, as an homage to Greg's pet frog, Jason Funderburker, and the slew of names he has throughout the show.

Eat your Dirt (and worms) is a reference to episode 9 and as Beatrice's Mamma bird told Wirt to do. It was chocolate pudding (the cook kind not instant), with crushed Oreo dirt, and a gummy worm.

In episode 7, Aunties Whispers actually eats one the sinister black turtles that appear throughout the show, so I purchased some chocolate Turtle candies and added a sign. Next time I might crochet some black turtles...

Along with our favorite halloween candy (which I tried to find a pair of Ants in your Pants game pants to put it in as a nod to Greg keeping his candy in his pants) we also had my favorite Funfetti cupcakes with pumpkin flavored mini marshmallows and fall leaves sprinkles on top. Last but not least, I pulled out the orange pumpkin shaped spritz cookies I made.
orange pumpkin and fall shaped spritz cookies
I like to go all out for Halloween if you can't tell... I do not have a Pintrest account because I know I would find a million ideas and more. We had fun, even if the rain meant we couldn't do a bonfire like usual.

November 2, 2015

Halloween Costumes 2015

I always like to do a post for Halloween. It's the best holiday.

On Friday my husband's school also let seniors and teachers dress up. He actually suggested Greg Universe, Steven's dad from Steven Universe the cartoon. Greg is a pretty low effort costume. So I quickly worked up a black t-shirt into a Mr. Universe shirt seen in the episode Lion 3, by making a stencil out of paper and an xacto knife and then using some acrylic paint on it. (You can make acrylic stay on clothing by heat setting it with an iron.) Along with some ripped jeans, his hair down, and some sandals, he looked the part. He took my Lion with him to school.
paper stencil
finished shirt painting
But I also wanted to share what his mom made for me: A Lion Hoodie!
Lion is also from Steven Universe and I had the idea to turn a hoodie into a costume, which turned out to be harder than I thought. I bought a 2X pale pink Hanes hoodie from their website. I still feel like it might be a little small but it fits ok. We used it for the base and then got 2 yards of this really soft swirl fur stuff in pink from Joann's. I really like how it isn't long hair-fur that will get matted, but short roses of really soft fur. Seriously, people kept petting me.

I'm really awful at sewing and of course I had no pattern to go from. So I started just pinning it around the hood to see how much I had to work with and if I could kind of just shape it as I wanted on the hood itself. This might have been easier on a mannequin I think. About an hour into pinning I realized I would need more help. Thank goodness my mother in law lives nearby and has access to a really good sewing machine, since mine was not going to get through this much fabric.
trying to lay out the fur onto the hoodie directly
bear served as mannequin

pink felt shapes were stuffed, the idea was to add it under the fur
We decided to use the extra yard of pink felt I bought for ears and a tail to also make petal shape pillows to stuff with fluff and add between the hoodie and fur to give it a full shaped look. Then we could tack the petal shapes to the hood and then cover with the fur to make it look right.

Unfortunately, once we sewed the shapes, stuffed them and put them under the fur it was all so heavy and fluffy that the hood no longer even worked as a hood and it just pulled itself off my head.
It took a few evenings of work, trial, and error to figure it out.

In the end we decided to go back to the original idea, of just sewing the fur down to the body of hoodie in ways to get the overall shape of Lion's mane, which is a big sort of star shape, rather than try to make 3D shapes coming off the head. We did add a little stuffing in places between the hoodie and the fur. And once the ears and tail was added it was pretty cute. The only place I helped sew is the pink bulb on the end, which I hand sewed down onto the tail.

I got a pair of Hanes light pink sweatpants at Walmart to complete the outfit.

I even made a little Lion Licker to keep in my pocket. If you don't know a "Lion Licker" is an ice cream treat Lion really likes in the show. It is hand sewn by me, as you can tell, and made out of felt. I added a little slit to the back side so I can keep stuff in it if I want to... like headphones... or candy corn. Not long after having this thought, I added a cotton lining to the inside for that very purpose. Took me about 3 hours of sewing to get this done.
So there you go. Another year of super fun costumes.
What did you go as?