January 25, 2016

Teal Shell Set

I brought a bit of yarn on our christmas trip, with the intention to make myself a hat, to match my new coat, while there. That didn't really happen in a timely sort of way, but I got it done and was able to use it the last two days.

I bought a single skein of Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in Dragonfly. The teal, blue, green and purple ombre colors matched my favorite teal converse, my teal hoodie and my new purple coat. I figured that would make this hat very versatile for my go-to winter wear. One note about this yarn though, it is pretty thin for a worsted weight, and is not plied, so it felts together really fast, making starting over and ripping out the yarn a pain in the butt.

The first hat I tried had intricate cables on the outside, but I thought they got lost in the color change.

The second was a more simple beanie hat, but the scale was off and it ended up being laughably small.

So after frogging this hat twice, I decided to go with the Shell Stitch hat pattern by Elise Engh of the blog Grow Creative which can be found here: http://www.growcreativeblog.com/2012/02/shell-stitch-crochet-hat-free-pattern.html. You might recognize the hat as I made it once before in gray for a friend. She gets a lot of compliments on it, so I figured it would be nice.

For the hat I used a 5.5mm hook, which is a little larger than recommended, but this yarn felts very quickly and the larger size helped it work up. I followed her pattern up to row 6, after which I added an increase row [(Inc, 4dc) around (72)] since the diameter was not yet to 7.5 inches as would fit a normal adult head. I then did another row of 72 dc around. Then I proceeded with rows 7-8 of her original pattern to create the area of shells.

I kind of wanted this to be more of a slouchy hat so I ended up doing 12 total rows of shells before starting on the brim. I switched to sc as instructed in row 13, for one row which turned out to have 78 sc around, not quite sure how that happened. To get it a little more snug, I did a decrease row [(dec, sc 4)] which took it down to 64 stitches around. Then did four more rows of sc around to widen up the brim a bit. Bound it off, and hid the ends and it was done. I'd say once I started this actual pattern it probably only took about 4 hours to make the hat.

I still had a little less than half the skein so I figured it would be enough to make a pair of gloves. Figured they should match so I adapted the shell pattern.

Teal ombré gloves: Used 5 mm hook
R1. Foundation single crochet 30 and slip stitch to first to form a circle, be sure it doesn’t twist.
R2-10. (9 rows) 30 single crochet around for cuff.
R11. chain 2, *skip 2, 5 dc in next, skip 2, dc in next*, repeat around forming shells separated by one dc, end with dc in last and slip stitch to first.
R12. chain 2, work 2dc in same space as chain, skip 2 and work dc in center dc of 5dc shell, *skip 2 and work 5dc in single dc from last round, skip 2 and work dc in center of 5dc shell*, repeat around, ending with 2dc in first chain space to complete the first shell.
R13. chain 2, *skip 2, work 5dc in next single dc from row before, skip 2, and work dc in center of 5dc shell*, repeat around, slip stitch into first.
R14-18. Repeat rows 12-13, until you have 7 rounds of shells completed from the cuff
R19. should be a row 12 repeat: where you chain 2, work 2dc in same space as chain. Follow round 12 around but chain three at the end instead of completing the shell. That will form the thumb hole.
R20-21. Repeat row 13, then 12 again to add two more rows of shells.
R22-23. Chain 1 and sc around, join to first with slip stitch.
Bind off.

Thumb hole: In order to make it more stable and obvious, I reattached my yarn to any spot on the thumb hole and worked 12 sc around the opening. It was a little tricky and I had to go through some of the chains, but work it around and join with a slip stitch to the first. I then did a second round of 12 sc around the opening, slip stitched to the first and bound off.

Hide all your ends. Done! These gloves took maybe two hours. The hat is also pretty comfy as a beanie with the brim folded up. This is now my go-to set of winter wear.

Difficulty for both is Easy.
Time to complete: Hat: 4 hours, Gloves: Two hours each

January 18, 2016

Skull Shawl

This post is about working on a Christmas present, or a birthday present... as those dates are very close for this special person.

I saw this pattern for a skull shawl on Ravelry and knew straight away that I wanted to make one for her. It's a tiny bit gothy, but pretty and lace at the same time. I had originally thought about doing it in a solid black color... but I figured the design might get lost or be a bit boring. On a trip wandering through Joann Fabrics I saw this super cool looking yarn. It is a little shiny and has a lovely ombre in dusty gray, blue, and black. It's called Red Heart Boutique Midnight. If Red Heart keeps making such cool yarns, I might have to change my opinion of their stuff... just stay away from Super Saver.

The problem is that the original pattern is in some other language and a little hard to follow even in its translation to English. Thank goodness that Julia Marquart on Ravelry was kind enough to make video tutorials on each row of the pattern. She did modify the shawl to have a solid center rather than more skulls, but I kind of like it better.

I started off following the videos exactly, but after getting to the 11th row or so, I realized that I had done two things wrong. My shawl was ending up very large. First, I was using the Boutique yarn, which is a medium weight yarn where as the pattern calls for a sport weight which is much thinner. Second, the pattern calls for a 3.5mm hook, but I had gone up to a 4mm hoping that it would be alright for the larger yarn, but close enough to work.

I guess I could have gotten new yarn, but I really liked the stuff I had, so I decided to pull a Tim Gunn and "Make It Work".  I started over with the second skein to see if the changes I make would result in a smaller result than the first one. This time I used a 3.75mm hook which was the smallest that would still work the yarn right. To combat the large spaces that I did not like, I also reduced the number of chains usually by 2 where ever they came up in the pattern (so if it said chain 6, I did 4, if it said 9 I did 7, etc). To further shrink it down, I also went from 4dc in a "block" to 3dc.

It takes about a hour and a half to get through the first skull motif and of course the rows just get longer and longer from there. The good thing is that at row 13 they start repeating sections of the first couple of rows to get more skulls on either side of the blocks in the center. This section of blocks between motifs just increases by one for each row, so after you get the hang of how the motif is made it is actually pretty easy to figure out the rows after that.

The shawl worked up pretty fast over the course of a week or so. As I got closer to the end of the second skein, I realized I might not have enough to finish off the last motif, but I kept going to see how close I could get, hoping that it would turn out alright. Two rows later I felt sure it was not going to happen so I took several rows back out and filled out the rest of the shawl with blocks instead of starting new motifs. I also thought about getting a third skein, but she's a petite girl and I didn't want this to be a blanket on her.

Done! I can't tell if the skulls are getting lost or not. I also feel like this is much wider than long, and that bothers me a little, but I guess it is a shawl and not a blanket.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Finished size: 50" long along the shoulders, by 32" along an edge to the point.

January 11, 2016

Views at LTM Ranch

Taking a short breather this week, but I thought I would share a few images from my Christmas trip to west Texas during December 2015.

My husband and I often help chaperone the Big Bend trip that Ecology students take in the spring at our high school, so we are quite familiar with the area around the National Park. We love it. This year, we went in the spring as usual, in November during the thanksgiving break, and again, during the Christmas break. Each time we go, the park seems just a little different.

For Christmas, we rented a house north of Terlingua, the LTM Ranch. Although it does take a good hour and a half to get to Alpine, the nearest real town, and the same amount of time to get down into the park itself, the house was a stunning and comfortable place to get away.

The view from the back porch and living room looks out over many different mesas and mountains. Each day we were there, the weather was so different that I started taking panoramas each morning.

We arrived just before dusk the first night and sat on the porch watching the sunset. As we snacked in the 60 degree dusk the wind kicked up like nothing I have heard and quickly sent us scurrying inside for the evening.

The next morning we awoke to snow. Snow. In the desert. Amazing.

The day after it was cloudy and still very cold, but the snow had started to melt.

Further melting happened and the weather gave way to high 50s and low 60s for two lovely days of hiking in the park.

We even went down and sat in the hot springs. The evenings were still quite chilly.

The next few days it seemed to lapse back into gray skies.

It misted a bit.

The last day on our way it out rained.

Driving home was an experience itself as we drove out of the mud, into the chilly air, through snow covered areas, back into warmer sunny spots, again into chilly areas and finally back to the crisp weather at home.

I loved this trip. Seeing so many sides of the weather from the comfort of a couch and blanket was fascinating.

I would happily visit LTM again, and can't wait for the next time I visit Big Bend.

January 4, 2016

Triforce Gloves

Making things to custom fit people is a tough job, and it is harder still when they aren't super nearby for regular fittings. As such, these gloves were started in February 2015 and were just finished in December... but that's the way it goes sometimes.

My friend asked for a pair in dark green with a gold Triforce on the back of the left hand glove. Since I wanted to use Cascade Heritage yarn, I went to Jennings Street Yarns, as they had the color I wanted in stock! I also got a tiny skein of a "gold" color called Dandelion from Madtosh while I was in the area.

Back in February, I had him try some gray gloves I had made for another friend on and though they seemed a little long on him, they fit nicely in all other aspects. So I dropped two rows right by the wrist to make it fit a little nicer. On these I decided to go with regular half double crochet instead of the modified hdc from the original pattern I have been using to make these from. For the triforce detail I decided to do it as in line as color changes. I used this chart by Becca of Crocheting in Canada as a base, but then while I was working decided to modify it slightly.

It became a bit more complicated since I forgot that I also need to increase on two rows around the palm where the design is created, that made the stitches not quite line up. I tried to make it as centered as possible and I think it came out ok. I do think the triforce is a little on the large size, but then again these are also boy gloves.

I stopped at the thumb so he could try them on. Turned out they were too wide though the palm and cuff, but the length was good. He also liked the size of the triforce. Still meant that I needed to start over from scratch. This was sometime in March and I didn't want to finish them without a second fitting.

Still after so long, we remembered to have him try it on at the Halloween party and I was able to see that my changes meant that it fit great. I just had to add the fingers on for this left glove, which was no problem. Making the second one in all green, meant I didn't need to worry about the color changes, but it had been so long since doing the first it was hard to remember what I had done and get back into it. Thank goodness for Evernote and the foresight to write out what I was doing.
Finished gloves.
I took my time and got it done though. I have to say, I will probably never make the mistake of letting something go for this many months again. It feels great to have nothing on my list of unfinished projects.
they have a lot of stretch, so they fit me too!
I still have quite a bit of the green cascade left over, so I am of course contemplating making a hat or something to go with the gloves... perhaps in the way of an apology...

Time to complete a glove: if you do it in one go, perhaps 8 hours
Difficulty: this pattern is pretty simple to follow, but has a lot of details, Intermediate